Social Welfare Bill, 1992: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Question proposed: "That section 18 stand part of the Bill".

Generally speaking, the bulk of this comprehensive section is a tidying up exercise but I have a number of doubts in relation to it which I will ask the Minister to resolve. The legal conditions of the property sale should be taken into consideration in means testing — it is not covered in the Bill or the explanatory memorandum — because there could be conditions within the terms of the sale of property which would be relevant at a future date in relation to conditions for benefits. For example, a person could acquire a property and could have already been means tested. They could be left a house by their mother or father and it would be unfair to again means test such a person. It would be a very cumbersome process and very difficult to deal with because if it was a local authority house it would take a considerable time to dispose of it. It would have to be dealt with by way of a transfer order from the county manager and would have to be registered in the Land Registry. As those of us who deal with local authorities know, it could take 12 months or longer if there was a dispute in the family.

In the final paragraph of the explanatory memorandum there is a reference to "increases in another pension". Does that mean industrial pensions, UK pensions from social welfare sources, invalidity pensions and EC pensions? Somebody drawing a UK invalidity or disability pension could find if they returned to live here that because our pension rates are higher they would be means tested and paid the difference between the UK and the Irish pension. Will anything in the section interfere with that? Trying to clarify that situation in Newcastle-on-Tyne via the EC section of the Department created very long delays. When the Minister is bringing in regulations because the difference between the UK pension and the non-contributory pension entitlement here is small, it might be worth considering giving the person the full pension until the matter is processed. There would be no great difference between that and giving a payment, for example, from a community welfare officer through the health board to the individual concerned. If over-payments had been made they could be deducted and, if there had been an underpayment, the matter could be rectified by way of a lump sum. This is an opportunity to make provision for something which causes many problems for Members of the House and local authorities.

There was a lot of discussion on the previous method of means testing. It is totally unacceptable for many reasons, all of which I will not repeat. How is means testing carried out? When regulations are made for the purpose of calculating or carrying out means testing we should try to achieve uniformity because deciding and appeals officers are interpreting the regulations in a variety of ways. The Department will say that there is a uniform interpretation but that is not the case. Members of the House should be given a simplified document stating how means testing is carried out which would save the Department, officials and Members of the Oireachtas an enormous amount of time.

The main objection to this section is that the Minister is introducing, for the first time, means testing on contributory benefits. Last year I represented a person in a very important case, which I cannot refer to here, but I will tell the Minister about it privately. The reason I cannot refer to it is that it subsequently went to the High Court. The learned judge has not yet delivered his judgment so the sub judice rule applies. The same thinking appears to be in this section and in the explanatory memorandum, which was virtually quoted by the appeals officer in the case. This happened over a year ago and I said at the appeal that it was an attempt to introduce by the backdoor a means test to a contributory pension or benefit. I should like to have the Minister's assurance that that is not the case because it would be highly dangerous to introduce means testing for a contributory pension. It is akin to saying that you would introduce a means test after you had paid car insurance and had an accident; that the insurance company would note what you had in your house or how much money you had in the bank before they would pay for the damage caused by the accident.

In general terms I welcome the section, but if it means that we are introducing a means test for contributory pensions — I would like the Minister to reassure me on this point — we will be in trouble and in my opinion it will be a sad day for this House.

It appears to me that this is a tidying up operation. With regard to Deputy Bell's point on a means testing of contributory pensions, will the Minister clarify the position because from my reading of the section I do not see that it is there? However, I would be very opposed to it.

No, it is not.

I wish to raise two or three points on this section. I have taken a different angle but I assume I am in order in raising this point. Section 18 (a) states... "where such income is attributable to a period prior to the year immediately preceding the date of calculation but is received in a subsequent year..." A great number of people who were self-employed prior to becoming entitled to a pension have experienced difficulties. It would be true to say that these people would be applying for unemployment assistance rather than unemployment benefit. The way the rule is interpreted in my neck of the woods is that the income earned in the previous 12 months is taken into account. I can give an example: the man who owns his JCB and is a self-employed JCB driver. As the Minister will be well aware, during part of the year he would not be able to do all the work he could get and he could work 18 hours a day, but in the slack periods he would have no work. Naturally when he is not working he has no income. I am not making the case for the man who had managed to stockpile money because he had made £50,000 in the previous six months. I am making the case for the man who makes an average income when he is working because he has to pay insurance for the year, he has to maintain the vehicle and his family would have nothing to live on during the months he would not be working. I am sure there is a standard procedure but the way it is interpreted leaves a lot to be desired. Four or five cases come immediately to mind and when the man is not working, the family have no income. He would not have managed to save because he would have spent all the money on plant and machinery. I think this may come under the provisions of section 18, where income is attributable to a particular year. I am sure many Deputies come across similar problems quite regularly.

My second query relates to the transfer of the family farm to the son or daughter. We are all well aware that farmers would not transfer their lands but for the fact that they were unlikely to get the pension at 66 if they still retained their land. From what is happening around the place, I cannot see this continuing. Usually when the person aged 66 and over divested himself of his property he was usually entitled to the old age pension. The trend at present is to have an off-farm job as well as working part time on the land. The social welfare officers are beginning to say to the person who has inherited the land that because he is not a full-time farmer the only reason his parents divested themselves of their property was to get the old age non-contributory pension. Usually the person who inherited the land was not a full-time farmer even though he now owns the land. I know of eight or ten cases where the family farm was transferred to a son or daughter in another way but the pension was never paid because the Department said that the son or daughter who had inherited the property did not reside full-time on the farm. This is a specific query but I think it comes within the section.

Finally, I would like to be reassured that contributory pensions will not be means tested. If the Minister's answer is in the affirmative, I have no fault to find with the section.

I wish to raise two queries on section 18 (a). If the Minister can confirm that this is a beneficial change, we will not oppose it. The explanatory memorandum states:

...that arrears of income which relates to a previous period and which under present rules would be assessed as capital will now be assessed as income for the period to which it relates;

I believe this may apply in the following case. If a young person has a motor cycle accident, the compensation may be paid some years later because the wheels of justice grind slowly. Let us say he gets £10,000 compensation. Under the old system that was regarded as capital and the interest on the capital was regarded as means. As I understand this section, the £10,000 will be regarded as income and will be assessed as income for the period to which it relates. Will the Minister clarify if that is the case? I wonder if the £10,000 will be regarded as capital and the interest regarded as means in subsequent years? I know this is a difficult query.

My second query relates to those who qualify for both a British and Irish pension. If the British elect a Labour Government, it is expected that pensions will be increased. However there is a charge for cashing the sterling pension and getting Irish currency. When assessing the Irish pension the person should get, do we take account of the net amount of the British pension the person receives in púnts, because sometimes the rate of exchange fluctuates?

Section 18 in the main is good news. It provides for amendments to the rules in regard to the calculation of means for pension purposes, old age (non-contributory) pension, widows (non-contributory) pension, lone parents allowance and carer's allowance schemes.

Deputy Connaughton referred to assessing means for unemployment assistance. Section 18 relates to pensions. The Deputy is right as regards self-employed people who wish to go on unemployment assistance; if, for instance, the person was a painter and worked during the summer from May to October and then became unemployed, their means for unemployment assistance purposes would be assessed over the preceding 12 months and if their income was in excess of the eligibility limit, they would not qualify for unemployment assistance. I have come across a few of those cases and some method has to be found for assessing self-employed people. Those people usually appeal the decision and in the meantime they are paid the supplementary welfare allowance. The Deputy is talking about unemployment assistance and it has nothing to do with these pensions.

I am not aware of the court case to which Deputy Bell referred — and about which he said he would speak with me afterwards — but there is nothing in this section or no change of policy that would result in means testing for contributory pensions. The Deputy appears to be familiar with the background of the case and I will be interested to hear what he has to say.

Is that a guarantee?

I can tell him that under this section it is not intended to means test such a person. There is no means testing for a contributory pension. That is not provided for in this Bill or in any other Bill.

Will it be in any of the regulations?

No, it would be a total contradiction of contributory pensions. I will speak to the Deputy afterwards about that but I can give him assurance.

Deputy Connaughton referred to means testing and the need for uniformity in the system. I have given an undertaking that in my period in the Department of Social Welfare we will endeavour to get uniformity between all the means testing arrangements. If we could achieve that then we could publish the guidelines in that regard. Guidelines can be obtained from the Department at any time, and Deputies have often put down parliamentary questions as to the means testing for the different schemes. The rules which have to be consulted would almost fill a book and are very confusing. It would be important in the coming year to streamline the means testing arrangements so that the guidelines would apply to all schemes.

A number of Deputies raised the question of the United Kingdom situation. That matter is covered in part of this section and is mentioned in the explanatory memorandum. A person can qualify for an old age non-contributory pension here even though he or she may have a small United Kingdom or EC pension. A difficulty which has been encountered by Deputies on all sides is that in theory and in law when means are assessed for non-contributory pension account is taken of the amount of the United Kingdom or other pension. When increases are granted in the United Kingdom that results in an increase in that pension and the old age non-contributory pension here should then be reduced. In practice sporadic reviews of means in those cases take place and suddenly, after three or four years, everybody is being assessed together, which results in difficulties for some recipients. Then the Irish pension is also increased and it all gets very confusing. Under this Bill, for the purposes of adjusting the rate of pension payable to a person, by reference to increases in another pension to which he is entitled, separate increases in other pensions may be assessed in aggregate. One of the rules of the Department of Social Welfare for assessing the pension is that if the increase in the other pension was £1.80 per week, no account is taken of it since it is less than £2. If the increase in another pension was £2.25 the person would be affected——

Their pension would be reduced.

Yes. If they receive an increase every year in their UK pension of £1.80 we will try to streamline some provision in that regard. I do not know the answer to the query raised by Deputy Kavanagh concerning exchange control. I do not think account could be taken of bank charges etc., for the encashment of non-Irish cheques. Usually a UK pension is paid to the Department of Social Welfare, they encash it and do not charge for it. When people are paid direct I do not know if that is taken into account. Different banks have different charges and some banks do not impose any charges — maybe they are becoming few and far between, but there are occasions when the official does not charge for encashment.

If they are open.

In section 17 we amended the definition of "spouse" to get over the problem of cohabiting couples. Section 18 provides that the means of cohabiting couples will be assessed in the exact same manner as for married people. Another provision in the section is that maintenance paid by either spouse under a separation order will be subtracted from the means of the paying person because under a court order they have to pay maintenance to their former spouse. Not many years ago the income tax legislation was changed to take account of that situation, so this is more or less following on what happens with income tax. That is basically the purpose of the section. The section is a technical one but if any Deputy has any further questions I will try to answer them.

I seek clarification in relation to section 18 (a). The Minister said this paragraph applies to means tested or non-contributory pensions or income. The manner in which the new section is drafted means that people will be means tested retrospectively for the period in which they qualified and the capital will be treated as income. If that is followed through it could be a penal clause. I have no problem as regards account being taken, say, of an inheritance some years ago but in this case they qualified in a period when they had nothing and now it is being treated as income instead of capital for the retrospective period. That is my interpretation of it but perhaps the Minister has another view on it.

Section 18 (a) refers to arrears of pension only from another jurisdiction and it does not take account of accident settlements. It has nothing to do with that area at all.

It does not cover them. I do not know what the arrangements are in relation to the assessment of such settlements but, as I said, paragraph (a) of this section does not cover the matters to which Deputies Connaughton, Ferris and Kavanagh have referred. It covers only arrears of pension. At present these are regarded as capital and a person is assessed on the interest earned whereas under the new system it will be evened out and there may be some winners and losers. As I said, accident settlements are not covered by this paragraph.

(Carlow-Kilkenny): I did not intend to speak to this section because amendment No. 42 deals with the assessment of means of the self-employed in respect of unemployment assistance but as the Minister and Deputy Connaughton referred to it and in case we do not get to the amendment, I would like to refer to it in a fleeting way. There is nothing more ridiculous under the social welfare system than telling a carpenter or a painter that they have an income of £100 per week simply because they did some work last year. At present I am dealing with the case of a married man who has a wife and four children and who has rarely been out of work. He is a carpenter but cannot find work in that line. He has been assessed as having an income of £105 per week this year because he did some work last year. While I accept we will deal with this matter later I suggest to the Minister that this provision should be scrubbed straight away.

Having made and defended a case earlier, I would not be happy in defending that aspect and do not understand the logic behind the idea that because a man did some work last year he is now considered to have the same income. While I appreciate there would be technical difficulties in trying to devise a system to meet cases involving the category of self-employed person referred to by the Deputy I am not happy with the position. However, we should cease talking about it because it is not related to this section and we may antagonise the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

We cannot legitimise something on the basis that we might not reach it. We must deal with what is before us.

I am not saying that this was intentional but the wording of section 18 is open to interpretation. Neither am I saying the Minister is a dishonourable man, that he will say one thing in the House and do something different at a later stage but Ministers move on and their successors may not have listened to the discussion in the House or be aware of what the original intentions were. As I said, the Minister should specify in the regulations what is covered so that the Members of the House will know what his intentions are. The wording of section 18 (a) is so open that one could drive a horse and cart through it.

We will leave that operation until some other time.

I will consider the matter before Report Stage to see if we can allay some of the Deputies worries. The section is technical and complicated enough without making it more difficult. It does not make sense to have regulations just for the sake of them.

We are happy with that.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 19.
Question proposed: "That section 19 stand part of the Bill."

I seek some information from the Minister on this complex section. My initial query concerns the amalgamation of the two existing maternity allowance schemes. While I am not worried about the maternity allowance scheme for women in employment I ask the Minister to indicate what implications this proposal will have for those women who would be entitled to make a claim under the general maternity allowance scheme which is directed at women who are not in employment or who do not intend to return to work and satisfy certain PRSI conditions.

Would the Minister explain if those women who would be eligible to receive £50 per week under the general scheme will be affected by the proposal to amalgamate the two maternity allowance schemes? In his speech the Minister mentioned that since April 1991 employees earning over £25 per week are covered by the social insurance system and that as a result a large number of part-time workers are now covered by the system. He also referred to those employees covered by the legislation operated by the Department of Labour. Those are two specific categories of workers and I am concerned that the Minister is likely to exclude in the future those who would otherwise qualify under the general scheme for the £50 per week payment as well as the child dependant allowance.

In the absence of regulations it is nearly impossible to work out what we are being asked to support. Indeed, this is only half complete in the sense that regulations will have to be introduced covering various aspects of the Bill. As a result we are trying to negotiate here with one arm tied behind our backs.

Will the Minister outline at this stage what his intentions are in regard to the minimum amount to be prescribed in regulations given that he is trying to address the problems of part-time workers earning over £25 per week who are now covered by the social insurance system? In his speech the Minister stated "this minimum will take account of the fact that women on low earnings who were not previously covered by social insurance will now be covered". He stated also that the minimum amount would be prescribed in regulations. It is important that the Minister give us some indication of what figure he is talking about so that we can compare it with the amounts payable under other social welfare schemes, such as disability benefit. Will it be £25 or £50 per week? This section needs to be teased out further with the Minister who should outline what his intentions are in more detail.

Listening to Deputy Byrne, it strikes me that it might be better on certain sections if the House agreed to hear the Minister first so that he could enlighten or elucidate. Perhaps in this way he might dispel some of the anxieties and fears. Deputies would then be addressing positive statements.

I intend to ask the question in a different way.

It might be better on this section if I read into the record what the intentions are. Deputy Byrne said he is opposing the section but I believe he is opposing it only in an effort to find out what the intentions are. Most workers should benefit. As Deputies may be aware, there are two maternity payment schemes currently operated by the Department of Social Welfare — the maternity allowance scheme for women in employment and the general maternity allowance scheme.

Under the maternity allowance scheme for women in employment an allowance representing 70 per cent of the woman's reckonable weekly earnings, subject to a minimum amount, is payable for 14 weeks to women in employment who are covered by the Maternity (Protection of Employees) Act which is operated by the Department of Labour. The allowance under the general maternity allowance scheme is payable to insured women who do not qualify for maternity leave under the Maternity (Protection of Employees) Act. Under this scheme, a weekly allowance of £50 with additional increases for child dependants is paid for a 12 week period. Department of Labour legislation relates to hours worked per week and some people do not qualify under that. The scheme in my Department is more flexible. Anyone earning over £25 per week now is in the class A rate. If we did not amalgamate these two schemes some people without the protection of Department of Labour legislation would not be covered.

Section 19 provides for the extension of the maternity allowance scheme for women in employment, to cover certain part-time workers who are not entitled to maternity leave under the extended provisions of the Maternity (Protection of Employees) Act. These are women who work fewer than eight hours per week and are not therefore covered by that Act. By virtue of earning more than £25 per week they are covered under the Social Welfare Acts, since 6 April 1991. In extending the scope of this scheme the opportunity is being taken to consolidate the provisions relating to the maternity allowance scheme for women in employment. Section 19 also provides for the discontinuance of the general maternity allowance scheme previously provided for in the Social Welfare Act, 1991. That Act provided that the general maternity allowance scheme would be discontinued by order. Section 19 (1) provides for the substitution of new sections 24 to 28 in place of the sections contained in the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1981.

With respect, the Minister has not answered my question. I would like to come back to it.

This is the point I was making.

I am sorry, Deputy Bell. Deputy Byrne asked a question about the new minimum. We are being quite generous there. The floor, with regard to a part-time woman worker earning in excess of £25 per week, will be set at £60. People in that category will get more money on maternity benefit than they would from a part-time job. That is a bit of good news. We are not altogether stingy about this.

The first part of my question was not answered, but I will come back to it.

Deputy Byrne and I had more or less the same question to ask although stressing different elements of it. I and other colleagues sought this change. We welcome it because it tidies up a confused situation. As Deputy Fennell will confirm, many women did not know the difference between the two benefits. The Minister has clarified most of this but there is another element which he should clear up. Does this change mean that the regulation will stipulate the provisions in the 1991 regulations for part-time workers? If a woman was earning less than £25 a week, would she get no benefit at all?

The minimum payment for the part-time workers to whom I referred will be £60. It means that any woman in employment in line with the hours criteria in the Department of Labour legislation or in line with the Social Welfare legislation will qualify for maternity allowance.

Irrespective of income?

Yes. Under the social welfare scheme if a person is earning over £25 per week she is considered to be a part-time worker insured under class A since 6 April 1991.

I would like to get total clarity on that last point. Is it the case that a woman with an insurance record who does not intend to return to work after her maternity leave has expired will not be affected by this Bill?

That is the basic question. It is the key. At the moment women who are not in work are qualifying for a £50 maternity allowance payment. By amalgamating the two schemes is the Minister only dealing with an organised workforce including those working only eight hours or 24 hours per week and is he excluding from benefit women who are not in employment but who are at the moment benefiting from the maternity allowance? Is an unemployed woman with social insurance coverage eligible?

I am advised that all those on unemployment benefit can stay on unemployment benefit.

That is not the point.

Perhaps I am not too clear about this. I am getting confused about the various schemes. I do not really follow the point Deputy Byrne is making. By amalgamating the two schemes we are trying to ensure that every person in insurable employment will be covered for this allowance.

The Minister has excluded those women who are not in insurable employment. Is that it?

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle——

If we could solve Deputy Byrne's problem, I could bring in Deputy Fennell then. I would ask Deputy Byrne to elucidate further on the question he is presenting. I will call Deputy Fennell immediately afterwards.

I am concerned about the amalgamation of the two schemes. At the moment, there is a maternity allowance available for women who are not in employment or who do not intend to return to work. That scheme is being amalgamated with the second scheme and the Minister is saying that now everybody in insurable employment will benefit from the new scheme. Are we effectively removing from benefit women who are not in insurable employment?

Deputy Fennell has another question.

It relates to the same theme and we might as well all throw our ha'pence worth in. At least one of my constituents contacted me to say that her benefit had been cut off although she had been signing on. Is this not what the Deputies are talking about?

The woman who had been signing on believed she had an entitlement but she has now been told that she is off benefit and that she will not get anything when her baby is born in June. This is a new departure. Perhaps the Minister in his reply could explain why that is happening.

I thought I had put it simply. A woman who intends to return to her job is covered by the Protection of Employment Act but a woman who does not intend to go back to any job is covered by her insurance record. There were two schemes under Department of Social Welfare and Department of Labour legislation. These schemes are now being amalgamated. Will the women who does not intend to return to work, but whose contributions are paid, be adversely affected by this change?

The old scheme was abolished last year. This year, we are extending the new scheme to catch the people who were thrown out with the bath water last year on the abolition of the old scheme. That is what this section is about.

Deputy Kavanagh raised a query about a woman who has been on unemployment benefit or disability benefit. She will stay in benefit.

The Minister is doing away with the credits that would be accumulating.

We want to clarify the amalgamation of the two schemes. The cancellation of one scheme last year meant that some people could not qualify and they were left in a void. The Minister intends to enable them to qualify, but in doing so he could risk putting them out of continuing credit for the period of maternity allowance. They will get unemployment or maternity benefit but they will not get the credit.

I will investigate this matter before Report Stage. The section is designed to be an alleviating measure. I will clarify on Report Stage the matters Deputies have raised.

The payment is the same.

I want to congratulate the Minister and the Department on finally bringing adoptive mothers within the scope of the scheme. I raised this matter several times during the past year, particularly following the advent of the Romanian children. Several people contacted me on this matter, including some in my own constituency. I am very glad they are now covered.

I wish to raise another anomaly, relating not to maternity benefit but to the very opposite. A husband and wife may be cohabiting and have no children. In that case the wife does not and cannot receive any benefit. The Minister has made changes in regard to unemployment assistance and I would ask him to make a similar change in regard to unemployment benefit.

Deputy Joe Doyle raised this matter with me some weeks ago. He pointed out an error on page 9 of the social welfare book. He had already checked the matter with the Department of Social Welfare in Sligo and had ascertained that such people would not qualify, contrary to the impression given in the book. I have asked my officials to see if there is a possibility of bringing in an amendment to this Bill. This is being considered and if possible we will introduce the amendment on Report Stage. If the change is made, the Deputy can take the credit in that he pointed out the mistake.

I am deeply grateful to the Minister.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 20.
Question proposed: "That section 20 stand part of the Bill."

Sections 20 to 24, inclusive, are interlinked. Rather than have a discussion on each section, perhaps we could discuss them together and put a separate question on each.

That proposal, however meritorious, is not practicable. We must take each section seriatim. We will dwell on that which is appropriate.

I suggest taking the sections together for the purposes of discussion.

That only leads to additional confusion. Let us take each section as we meet it.

The explanatory memorandum states that this section provides for new definitions designed to facilitate the introduction of attachment of earnings orders. The sections in Part V of the Bill provide for standardising and streamlining these arrangements and for the granting of attachment of earnings in appropriate cases. Perhaps the Minister will explain exactly what that means. I assume that the family court would make the order. How would the attachment order find its way from the court to the other spouse, who might be in receipt of social welfare benefit or might be working in a different part of the country or in England? If that spouse is in another EC country, could the attachment of earnings order be enforced? Could a wife have an attachment made of earnings on a building site in London? If not, people who do not want to comply with the court order can simply skip the jurisdiction. That happens quite often, even without attachment orders. Perhaps the Minister would consider entering into discussions with the United Kingdom authorities to see if, within the framework of reciprocal arrangements between EC countries, attachment orders made in our courts could be enforced. The section will not be effective unless this can be done because people against whom such orders are made will leave the jurisdiction.

The Deputy has put his finger on the worrying feature. It is very difficult to enforce attachment of earnings orders. The procedures are cumbersome and the horse has usually left the stable before action can be taken. Part V of the Bill is designed to strengthen provision in this regard. Unfortunately people disappear to another jurisdiction, in most cases the United Kingdom. The provisions of the Bill do not strengthen our hand in that case, but it may be possible in the context of closer European union to achieve improvements. There are provisions in law which enable us to follow up people outside this jurisdiction but this section does not strengthen the provisions in that regard. It gives the Department of Social Welfare further powers relating to attachment orders so that some contribution will be made by deserting spouses. That is the purpose behind this section.

Section 20 deals solely with definitions and it should not be extended beyond that.

We have supported legislation which provides that a deserting spouse must contribute towards the maintenance of the other spouse and children. Does the Minister intend to make those provisions applicable to the employer of the deserting spouse, because that is really the way to get to these people? A person's whereabouts may show up in the British tax system, with which the Department of Social Welfare have a link. If that was done it would provide an opportunity for employers to pay money from these people's wages.

That is one of the intentions behind these sections. They provide that a court may order the employer of a deserting husband or wife to pay money out of the person's wages. Orders such as this are made in other areas of public administration — for example, in the income tax code. Since I became Minister I read a report which showed that the percentage of deserting spouses who pay maintenance is very low, and the State has to pick up the tab. The intention is to strengthen the existing powers to provide, as Deputy Ferris said, that people are made responsible for their actions and that they support their deserted wives and children.

It has always been desirable in the case of a marriage breakdown where the breadwinner walks out that the State acts as godfather in supporting the family and collects the money thereafter from the deserting spouse. I would ask the Minister how successful this scheme has been.

Is the Deputy referring to the success rate in following up deserting spouses?

The success rate has been very poor in this regard.

Does the deserted wife have to go through a court process to get maintenance?

Are we not deviating from the regulations because in order for a woman to get deserted wife's allowance she has to go through a court procedure?

The existing provisions are very cumbersome and in many cases are ineffective. These are technical provisions designed to speed up the process by which the Department of Social Welfare will be able to follow up the deserting spouse. If the employer is required to pay money out of the person's wages it would be of help. The position is getting very serious. At present the taxpayers have to pay towards maintenance of deserted wives and families. These sections will give more teeth to the Department of Social Welfare. Even with the insertion of these provisions there may not be a dramatic improvement but at least there will be legally a more expeditious way of recovering money from a deserting husband.

This section refers to definitions. Section 22 refers specifically to the point we are dealing with now. We should be patient and deal with matters under the appropriate sections. Let us dispose of section 20 and we can then deal with this matter to our hearts content under section 22.

All these sections are interlinked and it is almost impossible to deal with them separately.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 21 agreed to.
SECTION 22.

Amendments Nos. 30 and 31 are related and may be taken together for discussion purposes.

I move amendment No. 30:

In page 26, line 30, to delete "of this section".

These amendments are purely technical amendments which propose minor changes. Amendment No. 30 proposes in page 26, line 30, to delete "of this section" and amendment No. 31 proposes in page 27, line 42, to delete "amongst" and substitute "to". I am sure the House will agree to these amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 31.

In page 27, line 42, to delete "amongst" and substitute "to".

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 22, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I do not have much personal experience of the operation of attachment orders but I have witnessed their operation on a limited number of occasions. I acknowledge that the Minister is trying to place responsibility primarily on the deserting spouse. However, I do not believe that this will work because if a deserting spouse knows that an attachment order is going to be made against his employer he will not stay in that employment. As Deputy Bell said, most deserting husbands would go to Manchester or London. If I was an employer I would not employ a person with problems such as this. The last thing an employer wants is problems with attachment orders. I sincerely hope that the legislation will work but I can see many reasons why it will not. I have very limited experience in this area but I envisage huge problems arising.

Attachment orders are problematic, not just for people in regular employment but also for the self-employed. These people seem quite adept at evading responsibilities, not least of which is the payment of PRSI contributions and taxes. Will the Minister confirm that strong measures will be taken with regard to attachment orders so that the self-employed in particular are vigorously pursued for payments?

I agree with the point raised by Deputy Connaughton. Racketeering is widespread in this whole area, with men who make girls pregnant walking away from their responsibilities. Not alone do they abandon the girl and the child but they take no responsibility for them morally, physically or financially. This is a pure racket. People talk about those fathers who go over to the UK; some of them live just down the road, so to speak. Up until now it seemed that no effort was being made to try to come to grips with the problem. In the specific case referred to by Deputy Connaughton, the onus and responsibility should be placed on the male to prove the contrary. In other words, when the case is under investigation the man should be obliged to get a clearance order from the court for production to the Department of Social Welfare. That procedure could be carried out easily through the offices of the District Court clerk.

I see no reason for the State to spend further moneys in tracking down guys who have no sense of moral or financial responsibility. We should not make things easy for them. No further money should be spent in investigating and running after those men, the responsibility should be placed on them.

One would have to agree with what has been said by Deputies in this regard. At present there is a very limited amount of success in attempts to track down those people and make them liable. I have some statistics in this regard that might be of interest to Deputies. Since the provisions of the 1989 Act came into force on 29 November 1990, 5,796 cases in payment have been examined to determine liability on the part of a spouse to make contributions to the Department.

The circumstances of the liable relatives in these cases examined to date can be classified as follows: (1) employed/self-employed, 16 per cent; (2) social welfare recipient, 47 per cent; (3) whereabouts cannot be traced at present, 37 per cent.

Maintenance recovery action is at present pursued by the Department only in the case of persons within category (1), that is, those in employment with the means to make some contribution towards the relevant payment of benefit or allowance. There are at present 1,018 cases in this category, including 83 cases where the liable relative is resident in the UK. To date, 32 determination orders have issued to liable relatives directing that weekly payments be made to the Department. The total weekly value of these orders is £1,707. The recovery of payments on these orders has, however, not been very successful. To date, total receipts amount to £1,056. Payments have so far been received from six cases only. Nine cases have so far been prepared for civil debt proceedings for non-compliance with the determination orders.

Deputies would realise from the figures I have given that even since 1989 we have not been very successful in receiving payments from liable relatives. Deputy Bell is correct in saying that it seems little effort has been made to trace liable relatives. I know of one case myself in which there was no effort made. It is often not the case that a deserting spouse cannot be found. In some cases the spouse may have gone to England or elsewhere but in other cases he might just have gone down the road. If the person concerned is on social insurance or in receipt of social assistance then he does not get the dependant allowance. No contributions at all are made when people are working, even though in theory a spouse might have gone to court and the court might have made an order. As everyone knows, it is often the case that the horse has already left not only the stable but also the farm. Often the men concerned involved have gone abroad; at least, they cannot be found.

The measures under debate are designed to give the Department of Social Welfare strengthened powers. I would have to be honest and say that in the initial period I do not consider it likely that there will be any great improvement. If I were to read out similar statistics this time next year, I suspect that they would not be much different from those I have just given. I hope for an improvement in the situation in time.

Deputy Eric Byrne is very fond of the self-employed. He has loved them greatly for many years. He takes every opportunity he gets to talk about them.

The Comptroller and Auditor General loves them, too.

The Department have existing powers to go after the self-employed, so there is no need for further powers in that regard.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 23.
Question proposed: "That section 23 stand part of the Bill."

In the light of the debate that has just taken place, I am rather concerned about section 23. Obviously, I offer my full support to the Minister in his efforts to trace deviant parents.

The explanatory memorandum states that the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act, 1976, will extend to awards by court order prior to the date of introduction of the liable relatives scheme. That clause is retrospective. It is my understanding that the orders were first introduced in November 1990. It is important to have orders against deserting parents, be they men or women. However, I am concerned that relationships between former spouses and their children that have existed for many years will be disturbed by sudden retrospective claims on agreements that have been worked out in this very delicate and sensitive area. Over time children would have been placed in schools, a standard of living would have been established and so on. My profound fear is that making the measure retrospective could cause untold misery and problems in the future and that the claims would not be worth the trouble gone through.

It seems that there is no power provided within the section that would give anyone the right to appeal a decision that might be taken. We all say that the Department should get the father and make him pay. However, the position is never quite as simple as that. I dealt with a case myself in which it transpired that although a father had deserted his wife and family and she was in receipt of a social welfare benefit, he did in fact continue to pay off the mortgage on the house, where the family was still in residence, and to meet other payments. If the hammer were brought down on that man then his wife and her family would have suffered miserably. Some people have been receiving relatively small sums of money on a regular basis for a long period and I am very worried that terrible damage could be done to the very delicate relationships that result from marriage breakdowns.

The purpose of section 23, as the Deputy has rightly pointed out, is to extend the application of the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act, 1976, to awards made before November 1990, when liable relative contributions were introduced. I understand what Deputy Byrne means. However, the 1990 provision related to awards made after November 1990. Surely it is only fair that those whose awards were made previous to then should have the provisions of that Act extended to them. I do not think the Deputy has too much to worry about on this issue. The Deputy seems to be worried that people who have straightened out their affairs since that period might find that their relationship — perhaps one of "living in bliss by living apart"— is upset. The intent of the measure seems to be very obvious. It is designed to extend the provisions that applied from November 1990 to awards made before then. I think that the Deputy is worried unduly in this regard, although I might be considering the issue from a different point of view than Deputy Byrne.

The Minister did say that he understood my point. He must remember that in circumstances in which marriages will have broken down, where second relationships will have been established, where a husband is still making some type of payment to the wife, everything is very delicate, with second relationships, second families, or whatever but there remains a transfer of payments from the husband to the wife. The Minister is asking: why not make it all retrospective? Yet when one examines the section dealing with deserted wife's benefit we discover there is no proposal there for retrospection; in that case it will apply as and from a date the Minister decides.

These were orders made prior to 29 November 1990, under which, say, husband X was to pay wife Y £Xs. Those orders remain in force and those husbands are supposed to be paying those amounts. All we are endeavouring to do here is extend the conditions applicable as from 29 November 1990, to orders made prior to that date. The principle the Deputy is outlining is not being interferred with in this regard, or at least I do not think so; we are just trying to extend it.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 24 agreed to.
SECTION 25.

Here we have amendment No. 32 in the name of Deputy Byrne.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 28, subsection (1) (b), between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following:

"(3) Where it is proposed to make regulations under this section, a draft of the regulations shall be laid before each of the Houses of the Oireachtas and shall not come into effect until a motion approving of each draft has been passed by each such House".

I am very worried about the proposed regulations to be made under this section. As I have said before, so often throughout this Bill, we empower the Minister to bring in regulations, very often without knowing on what basis. For example, it says in the explanatory memorandum:

In addition, section 25 empowers the Minister to make regulations separately from regulations under the Deserted Wife's Allowance scheme specifying the circumstances in which a woman is to be regarded as having been deserted by her husband for the purposes of the Deserted Wife's Benefit scheme.

That could mean anything. For example, the Minister's regulations could be so repressive as to render the provisions of the scheme unworkable for many deserted wives. On those grounds alone the Minister should take my amendment on board.

To continue that line of thought, the provisions of this section mean that a woman's entitlement to deserted wife's benefit will be means tested, I might add a benefit contributed already by way of PRSI contributions. For example, in making the regulation the Minister will be allowed to determine the level at which he will cut off eligibility for benefit based on the wife's income. Effectively that is a total change from the circumstances prevailing. At present a woman is entitled to benefit on the basis of contributions paid. I contend there should be no means testing of her eligibility therefor. This is a fundamental change. I know there has been media speculation to the effect that the Minister intends to pitch the limit at an income of approximately £12,000 per annum for a woman who is deserted, means testing her on £12,000 of her income, debarring her from benefit on the basis that, although she is deserted — because she already has £12,000 income — she will not be paid deserted wife's benefit. That is what the section means.

The regulations also mean that the Minister — perhaps not the present one but one of his successors — effectively could apply that means testing successively at lower levels for budgetary reasons in the future. This would mean a woman could be debarred from drawing deserted wife's benefit, although deserted, by having an income of, say, £8,000 next year. Effectively it gives the Minister immense powers by way of regulation but, in addition, introduces a whole new method of means testing of benefits eligible by reference to contributions.

(Carlow-Kilkenny): I want to add my voice to what has been said by other Members about our difficulty in accepting the powers given to the Minister to introduce regulations. On a proposal as major as this I contend the regulations should be included with or incorporated in the Bill because, in the long run, the Minister can decide absolutely anything. For example, I had a difference of opinion with the Minister for the Environment when we were in the course of Committee Stage of the Control of Dogs Bill. He was endeavouring to define a “guard dog”, when all Members present were most anxious to know exactly what was the definition. He could not define it in the Bill but we discovered he could in the regulations. The same applies here in that the Minister can decide anything he likes about deserted wives. I contend such major decisions should comprise part of the Bill rather than the regulations.

I have two or three points to raise here. Why the change and what is the rationale behind it? For example, how many people does the Minister expect will be covered by the provisions of this scheme? As Deputy Ferris said, it is a new method of means testing. Indeed it is similar to our debate of last evening on the curtailment of the dental scheme for people earning in excess of £25,000 per annum. I know the Minister is empowered to bring in regulations. In certain circumstances I could understand the Minister being guided by this House within certain limits, so that we would know exactly what he intended doing. For example, I do not see the figure of £12,000, the cut-off point, referred to in the explanatory memorandum. I am not sure whether the Minister himself said it might be pitched at approximately £12,000 or whether I read that in the newspapers. One way or the other I would not be happy with the proposal until I ascertained exactly what the Minister proposes and, more importantly, why. Is the Minister suggesting that there are very many deserted wives who earn or have a personal income in excess of £12,000? Numerically speaking I should have thought there would not have been a great number nationwide. Nonetheless the proposal is to introduce a new method of means testing. I would have to predict that many people at present in receipt of deserted wife's benefit might well fear for next year or the year after when that ceiling of £12,000 would be lowered, that is if the Minister's objective is to save money. Perhaps the Minister's purpose is different, for a reason I cannot see. For example, is there some sort of scam of which we are not aware? Is it that some of the Minister's officials are bringing back information to the effect that there is something gravely wrong in that area but, if there is, let the Minister tell us because certainly it is not obvious at present.

Finally, would the Minister say whether he envisages any circumstances arising in which he could report back to this House when he decides exactly what he proposes introducing by way of regulation? If that proposal turns out to be greatly different from what we have heard in this House we are entitled to be told and have our say on it.

I am absolutely opposed to this section on the grounds advanced today and those voiced in my contribution on Second Stage. I contend this runs absolutely counter to the tenor of the report of the Commission on Social Welfare in that the Minister is introducing a new method of means testing. We must remember — as has been said repeatedly — that there are at least 50 means tested schemes administered by various Government Departments. The last thing anybody needs is to be further confused by any more. Inevitably when a cut-off level of, say, £12,000 is imposed — and we are now speaking of deserted wives who are working — there will be those who will either be more exploited by their employer or the temptation will be, for many on the borderline, to ask their employer to deduct, say, between £5 and £15 from their salaries so that they would continue to qualify. Such a disastrous provision has no place in the social insurance system.

I should like the Minister to tell us the number of deserted wives earning in excess of £12,000 and how much of this money is clawed back by way of tax. The allowance will be restricted to a deserted wife whose earnings are at or below £12,000 per year. We must remember that we are not talking about massive sums of money in the context of the deserted wife's allowance.

The setting of an income limit in this regard will be very unfair to deserted wives who have suffered enough trauma by being deserted. A very important principle is involved here. The Minister is seeking to break this principle in at least three sections. Reference was made earlier to the arrangements in regard to dental and optical treatment. The vast majority of women who pay money into this insurance scheme will never have to call upon it as they will not be deserted. However, some women are deserted by their husbands and it is wrong to further penalise these people. I am totally opposed to this section.

This regrettable measure proposes to target a very vulnerable group in our society. I cannot think of any group in our society who are more unfortunate than deserted wives. As its title suggests, the deserted wife's allowance is given to women who have been abandoned and deserted. In many cases these women have to rear their children, pay the mortgages on their houses and plan for the future on their own.

The Minister is proposing that these women should live on limited income. Deserted wives who earn more than £12,000 will not be able to receive a deserted wife's allowance. As Deputy Byrne said, this will open the floodgates to abuse of the system — these women may take up part-time work and try to manipulate the system in some way. The deserted wife's allowance is very important to these women; this weekly income is crucial to them.

In his speech the Minister said that this decision has been taken out of his hands.

I did not say that.

I was referring to the Estimates.

I am prepared to defend this proposal.

No woman insures herself against desertion. No woman wants this to happen to her. Desertion is regarded as such a civilised thing that the State has acknowledged the needs of women in such circumstances. The special role and needs of women are referred to in our Constitution. I ask the Minister to look for savings in other areas and to leave this benefit in place.

I want to make a fundamental point which I forgot to make the last time I spoke on this section. Up to now the Department of Social Welfare classified the deserted wife's allowance, and other payments, under the heading of lone parent allowances as the payments and the contributions are the same. I am concerned that in future a widow in receipt of benefit could be treated in the same way as the Minister is now proposing to treat deserted wives.

The Labour Party are opposed to the principle of means testing benefits. There is a possibility that in future a widow who is receiving benefit from her late husband's contributions or her contributions could be means tested to assess her eligibility for a widow's pension. Admittedly the deserted wife's allowance is already means tested but benefit schemes have never been means tested. This is the first time it has been proposed to means test these benefits. There is a possibility that all other lone parent allowances could be included in this section by the end of the year.

How can the Minister be so insensitive as to arbitrarily fix a figure of £12,000 when dealing with deserted wives? One deserted wife might have only one child and may not have to pay a mortgage while another deserted wife may have ten children and have to pay a mortgage. Consideration should have been given to the outlays of such women before the figure of £12,000 was set. If we agree to this section without knowing what will be in the regulations we could make a bad situation worse.

I do not think I could do better to put this issue into context than to refer to a letter which the Minister received from the recipient of a deserted wife's allowance. She said:

In common with other insured workers I have been forced since I started work in 1974 to pay into an insurance scheme which would give me certain entitlements. I never anticipated a time when I would be claiming deserted wife's benefit.

I do not believe any woman would think of taking out insurance to cover herself in the event of her husband deserting her; I do not think any woman believes she needs to insure herself against that eventuality. She continued:

A gross income ceiling of £12,000 per annum has been proposed. What Government Minister or TD would singlehandedly raise and educate a family on a gross income of £12,000 per annum?

She went on to say:

Many women engage in paid employment — if they can get it — to try to keep their families out of the poverty trap. To do so can mean expensive child-minding costs, transport costs, etc....

These women also have to meet expensive maintenance costs. Very few women receive training on how to replace tiles on roofs and so on. All this maintenance work has to be paid for. It is well known that the average weekly wage of women is only 60 per cent of that earned by men. That woman made a further point, to which I hope the Minister can give a positive answer. She asked:

Is there an underlying misogynistic motive to this — to keep women powerless, out of the workforce and subjugated to poverty?

The Deputy's colleagues said earlier he was a feminist.

This is powerful stuff.

The letter continues:

This legislation clearly demonstrates the Government's lack of any interest in, or commitment to, the welfare of women and children in this country, despite the establishment of a Commission on the Status of Women or any other tokenism.

I could not have put it better myself. Please get rid of the tokenism and lip service and respond positively. Does the Minister believe that women and their children can live on £12,000? It is bad enough to be on a low income but to enshrine it in legislation does not give one great hope in regard to working towards equal pay and equal opportunities, particularly for parents.

Deputy Barnes referred to many matters. I am old enough to remember the seventies when Deputy Barnes and Deputy Fennell — although not Members of this House — made speeches like that. We have come a long way since then and the changes in the deserted wife's benefit did not merit such a flowery speech from Deputy Barnes.

It was a speech on behalf of deserted wives.

I am very disappointed that Deputy Owen is not here; perhaps she is watching us on the monitor. Facing all the women members of Fine Gael can force any Minister to examine these sections. However, people are being carried away by this section; they should retain their sense of proportion. This section will apply to new claimants only and there will not be any effect on the deserted wife's allowance. As far as I can ascertain, there is no other country in which a man can insure himself against deserting his wife and that the State will pay for it.

With respect, the State does not pay it.

Perhaps after such a long time on Committee Stage we are all getting tired. However, we have had a good debate on many aspects of the Bill. Many schemes have been introduced over the years but this one is not in operation anywhere else. Whatever about insuring against snow in July, I cannot understand the insurance aspect of a deserted wife's benefit. I am not convinced that the deserted wife's benefit should be part of the social insurance system. Indeed, I say openly and honestly, without fear or favour, that I will take a lot of convincing in that regard. I do not think that too many people will disagree with my policy in this regard. Most of the plain people in the country feel the same way. The principle is difficult for me to comprehend. Deputies have asked which people will be affected by the regulations. The decision announced some months ago said that it would apply to those who had an income in excess of £12,000. However, there will be a tapering relief up to £14,000 because it would be a little harsh to have an arbitrary cut-off point.

I have heard all the arguments about social insurance but I cannot give an estimate of the tax which will be saved as a result of this measure. The deserted wife's benefit may be subject to tax if there is any other income. I know from my past life that the Revenue Commissioners operate a principle of reliefs in the first year, a practice has grown up in that regard. The deserted wife's benefit can continue indefinitely on the insurance record of the husband or wife. I have been more than generous in saying this measure will apply only to new claimants. The number affected by the provision this year will be very small, the savings will also be small. The decision in relation to this measure was announced by my predecessor, Deputy Daly, last December and I have no difficulty in supporting it. While it may upset my good friend, Deputy Barnes, to hear it, if this option had been put to me last December I might have taken a harder line in relation to deserted wives.

I listened on the monitor to what Deputies said about deserted wives, we all feel sorry for them. However, there are also many deserted husbands. What about an allowance for a deserted husband? If a man with three or four children has been deserted by his wife, under what circumstances will he get an allowance? The second paragraph of section 25 specifies the circumstances in which the deserted wife's allowance is given, but there is no mention of the husband. I assume the Minister means both, because there is a growing number of deserted husbands.

Of course, as we all know, the deserted wife's scheme has often been abused and we must ensure that the benefits go to genuinely deserted wives. Some situations in this regard have been manufactured and I do not blame any Minister for tidying them up.

That is an outrageous statement.

We want to ensure that money is allocated to genuine cases of desertion. Will the Minister indicate the circumstances in which a deserted husband will receive an allowance?

I disagree with some of the sentiments expressed by Deputy Bell. It amazes me that the Minister should tell us that he has looked at social insurance systems all over the world——

I cannot find one similar to ours.

He is baffled and mesmerised and cannot understand how holy, Catholic Ireland has such a ridiculous deserted wife's benefit scheme. Did the Minister ever consider why these countries do not have such a scheme? They all have divorce. When marriage breaks down in Ireland, people do not have the option of taking the civilised route of divorce proceedings, they scatter helter skelter and run away from the problem, perhaps going to England. We, the legislators, have not provided them with the civil right to go through the legal process of humanely and honestly breaking up and dividing their resources. The reason that deserted wife's benefit is built into the social welfare system is that it is the classic Irish form of divorce. Because the State is not able to accommodate the situation where Danny does a runner and the marriage breaks down, the State introduced a deserted wife's benefit scheme. I do not see anything wrong with that.

I will deal with the technical point raised by Deputy Bell. He is referring to section 25 (2). This provides for a technical amendment to section 100 (2) of the 1981 Act, which deals with the circumstances in which a woman is to be regarded as having been deserted for the purposes of entitlement to deserted wife's benefit. Under existing provisions the circumstances under which a woman is to be regarded as having been deserted for the purposes of deserted wife's benefit are determined in accordance with regulations made under section 195 (4) (a), which relates to the deserted wife's allowance scheme. This arrangement was appropriate when the two deserted wife's payments schemes were introduced. Following on the introduction of the lone parent's allowance scheme in 1990 the residual deserted wife's allowance scheme now caters only for deserted wives aged 40 years or over who do not have child dependants. Because of this change in the deserted wife's allowance scheme a woman entitled to deserted wife's benefit is technically, although not in practice, regarded as receiving reasonable maintenance from her husband if she is receiving maintenance equal to or greater than the maximum personal rate of deserted wife's allowance.

Section 25 (1) (b) remedies this technical defect by providing for separate regulations to be made in relation to the deserted wife's benefit scheme specifying the circumstances in which a woman is to be regarded as having been deserted by her husband. The regulations will provide that a woman will be regarded as having been deserted if the maintenance, if any, which she receives is less than the rate of deserted wife's benefit appropriate to her family circumstances.

Subsection (2) states that this provision will come into operation by way of a commencement order. This is a technical amendment and there is no change in the fundamental underlying principle of desertion. It is a tidying up exercise to facilitate the changeover in the schemes.

The point Deputy Byrne raised is a matter to which the Cabinet will be giving great consideration over the remaining period in office. I would not necessarily disagree with the points the Deputy has made about the schemes which result from the fact that we have not faced up to other problems. The Government will be considering the other aspects he raised in due course but they have nothing to do with the Social Welfare Bill, 1992.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 55; Níl, 62.

  • Ahearn, Therese.
  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connor, John.
  • Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Farrelly, John V.
  • Fennell, Nuala.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Foxe, Tom.
  • Garland, Roger.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Harte, Paddy.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lee, Pat.
  • McCartan, Pat.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • Mac Giolla, Tomás.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Spring, Dick.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
  • Yates, Ivan.

Níl

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brennan, Mattie.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond J.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, Jim.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • Stafford, John.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Wyse, Pearse.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies McCartan and Byrne; Níl, Deputies Dempsey and Clohessy.
Amendment declared lost.

I am now required to put the following question in accordance with the order of the Dáil of today: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Social Welfare and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; in respect of each of the sections undisposed of, that the section or, as appropriate, the section, as amended, is hereby agreed to; that Schedules A and B and the Title are hereby agreed to and the Bill, as amended, is, accordingly, reported to the House".

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 64; Níl, 54.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brennan, Mattie.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Foxe, Tom.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, Jim.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Noonan, Michael J.
  • (Limerick West).
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond J.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Stafford, John.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Ahearn, Therese.
  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connor, John.
  • Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Farrelly, John V.
  • Fennell, Nuala.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Garland, Roger.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Harte, Paddy.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lee, Pat.
  • McCartan, Pat.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • Mac Giolla, Tomás.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Spring, Dick.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
  • Yates, Ivan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Dempsey and Briscoe; Níl, Deputies Flanagan and Howlin.
Question declared carried.

When is it proposed to take Fourth Stage?

Next Wednesday.

That is not agreed.

That is to be confirmed by the Whips.

I formally oppose the notion of taking Report and Final Stages in three hours next week.

The date has been indicated. We will await the outcome of the deliberations of the Whips.

Subject to there being sufficient time.

Report and Final Stages ordered for Wednesday, 2 April 1992.