PUBLIC BUSINESS. - HEARING OF COMPENSATION CLAIMS.

I beg to move:—

That the Seanad request the Government to expedite the hearing of claims for compensation in the case of persons who have suffered losses prior to the 11th July, 1921.

This is a subject which I have touched upon before, and which affects many people in the country districts. Everybody is aware, I think, that post-Truce claims in Dublin have been met to a certain extent. We who suffered losses in the country certainly do not grumble at that, but I know of cases in which decrees were given a year ago where no compensation has yet been paid. Figures have been given in the Dáil by the Minister for Finance, showing that claims to a large amount have been paid. I think I am right in saying that Dublin was included in that financial statement. I think the claims were all lumped together—the country claims and the claims dealt with in the city of Dublin. In the country, however, the fringe of these claims has hardly yet been touched. The hearing of them before the judges has not even taken place. I am perfectly aware that the judges have a great deal of work to do, and that the pre-Truce claims have to be dealt with. These claims have to come before a Commission. In the meantime, those people in the country districts who have suffered losses since 1921, are beginning to get excessively anxious, and wish to know when their claims are going to be dealt with.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Your motion says "prior to the 11th July, 1921." Should it not be "subsequent to the 11th July, 1921"?

I am dealing with post-Truce claims, and the motion can be altered, as suggested. It bears very hard on those who are prepared to reconstruct, and also on those who wish to rebuild on another site. I allude to those whose houses have been burned, and in this category those who wish to live at home in the Free State, and also those whose lives have been made unbearable by raids, by cattle-driving, by stealing, and by burglary. The Minister for Finance has dealt with pre-Truce claims in his Budget speech. He said:

"Also the awards made by the Compensation Commission in dealing with pre-Truce damage, did not involve such large payments as was at one time expected, while in cases where payment is due only on fulfilment of a building condition, applicants have been slow in taking steps to carry out this condition."

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That is pre-Truce.

I have read the whole of the speech on the Budget two or three times, and the only mention of post-Truce claims is this:—

"Again, on the expenditure side, the debt charge has not yet reached its full development, and in particular a substantial addition to the burden under this head may be expected through the creation of Compensation Stock in settlement of awards under the Damage to Property (Compensation) Act."

As you know, that is an Act that was very fully discussed in the Seanad. In the Budget cake, if I may so call it, that the Minister for Finance has presented to the Free State, there are plenty of currants, but I do not think you will find in it many plums. As the Minister truly remarked, "the protection duties will give us a limited but sufficient experiment in the use of a tariff for the stimulation of Irish industry." To that I say, "amen." But we want to pay our debts. From what I saw during the last two days, at some races that everybody seemed to attend, there appears to be plenty of money amongst the people of the Free State.

The wrong people have it.

I heard a remark, "the wrong people." I do not know if I am included in that category. I may as well say it has been stated that there were 6,000 motor cars in the vicinity of the course at Punchestown races on the first day. I do not say that all the motors got there, but the occupants did. That, of course, is material to what I am speaking about, as the occupants had to pay to go in. I can quite understand any Finance Minister in any country where two taxes, income tax and super-tax, are in existence, under such circumstances, saying, "I do not know why I should reduce income tax and super-tax." I believe it to be perfectly true that there is plenty of money in the country for people to amuse themselves. Therefore, I do not think grumblers have very much right to say what they are saying. I was glad to see the Ministers and the Governor-General taking a holiday. In these days of rush, hurry and vulgarity it is a good thing to shut the office desk and go for a few hours' fun and for a look occasionally at the green fields. So far as the finances of the Free State are concerned, I am an optimist. I am not pessimistic. I hope that you, sir, will pass it on to those responsible for the Government of the Free State that when a year has elapsed from the date of the introduction of these protective duties they should float another loan. The credit of the State is good. The motto should be "Pay your debts and smile."

Motion, as amended, put and agreed to.