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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 16 Dec 1948

Vol. 36 No. 4

Workmen's Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 1948—Second Stage.

The main purpose of this Bill is to provide increased compensation for workmen who are partially or totally incapacitated for work by accidents arising out of and in the course of their employment.

Under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1934, the maximum weekly payment was 30/-. Under Emergency Powers (No. 274) Order, 1943, this maximum was, in the case of total incapacity, increased to 37/6 a week at which point it stands at present. In cases of partial incapacity the maximum still stands at 30/- a week. In total incapacity, subject to the maximum 37/6 a week, 75 per cent. of the pre-accident average weekly earnings is payable by way of compensation when these earnings exceed £1 and 80 per cent. when they are £1 or less. In partial incapacity, subject to a maximum of 30/- a week, 75 per cent. of the difference between the pre-accident earnings and the post-accident earnings, actual or potential, is payable where that difference is £1 a week or less and 80 per cent. if the difference is more than £1.

In effect, therefore, only earnings up to 50/- a week are reflected in the weekly amount of compensation for total incapacity. Since 1st June, 1943, when the emergency increase became effective, wage levels have risen considerably and an immediate increase in the maximum amount of compensation is, therefore, called for. Section 6 of the Bill fixes the maximum at 50/- a week for both total and partial incapacity and extends the increase to persons receiving payments who were injured both before and after the date to be appointed by Order under Section 2. The Emergency Powers Orders are being revoked by Section 8.

Due to the absence from the Act of 1934 of a definition of the expression "weekly payment", some persons injured by accident who are in receipt of payments voluntarily made by or on behalf of their employers are unable to secure advantage under some of the statutory provisions governing compensation. These provisions are contained in more than one section, but chiefly in Section 25. That section empowers the courts, on the application of either the employer or the workman, to review the weekly payment being made to an injured workman, and, on such review, to confirm, end, diminish or increase it.

It has been held by the courts, however, that the section applies only to weekly payments being made under an order of court or a duly registered agreement. As a result of this defect in the Act, persons in receipt of compensation voluntarily paid by an employer, without an order of court or formal registered agreement, cannot have their weekly payments reviewed and adjusted. Section 7 of the Bill enables such workmen to put themselves on the same footing as others, and gives them a right of review almost identical with that given under Section 25 of the Act of 1934. The provision is regarded as a necessary complement to the main provision. If it were not made, a number of persons would not benefit by the increase of the amount of the maximum weekly payment to 50/-.

There are still persons in receipt of compensation under the Acts that were in operation prior to 1st August, 1934, the date of the coming into operation of the Act of that year. From 17th January, 1944, an Emergency Powers Order provided for the payment to these of a supplementary allowance of one-fourth of the weekly payment they were then receiving. It is now desired to increase their present payments by a further one-third of these amounts. This will make an increase of two-thirds on the payments as they stood on 1st August, 1934, and, as the Emergency Powers Order is being revoked in Section 8, Section 3 provides for an increase of two-thirds on the 1934 payments subject to a maximum of 50/-a week.

A person employed otherwise than by way of manual labour whose remuneration exceeds £350 a year is an excepted person and does not come within the scope of the Act of 1934. It is provided in Section 4 of the Bill that all such persons whose remuneration does not exceed £500 shall be brought within the scope of workmen's compensation. A similar extension has already been made in these cases for unemployment insurance, national health insurance and widows' and orphans' contributory pensions.

A minor provision is the correction of a copyist's error in the Act of 1934. It appears at Section 5 of the Bill.

It will be seen, therefore, that the main provisions of the Bill are for the purpose of increasing the compensation at present being paid to injured workmen. This increase cannot, I am advised, be effected otherwise than by legislation. If it could have been done by Emergency Powers Order, I should have preferred that course, both because it would be more expeditious and because I desire not to undertake avoidable amendments of the present code of social legislation until the comprehensive scheme which is being devised is ready. The problems inherent in that scheme are, however, so numerous and complex that the task entailed in its preparation is enormous and it will be some time before the examination of the details is completed.

Since the commencement of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1934, many defects calling for legislative amendment have come to light. These will be carefully examined in connection with the comprehensive scheme of social legislation. It would not be reasonable, however, to defer the raising of the present weekly rates of compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, and it is for that reason that I have decided to proceed with this Bill, so that the most urgent problem—that of increasing the existing rates—may be dealt with speedily. I would hope for the co-operation of the Seanad in enabling this Bill to be passed before the Christmas Recess, so that those who will be entitled to increased payments under the Bill may benefit therefrom at the earliest moment.

It is with mixed feelings that we on this side receive the Bill presented to us to-day. While we welcome the Bill for the very little consideration it gives to these people whom it proposes to affect, we have a feeling of regret that, after a period of so many months, when we were led to believe that it was only a matter of very little consequence to have introduced into this Parliament a comprehensive social security scheme or plan, we get merely this Bill.

The provisions of the Bill are quite simple and quite disappointing in many respects. The Bill raises the allowances to workmen from 37/6 to 50/- per week and it also raises the ceiling, as has been done in the case of national health insurance and unemployment insurance, to bring within its scope people with incomes up to £500. But it is a Bill which is costing the State nothing. There is no State contribution in respect of the premiums which will have to be paid under the Bill. Workmen's compensation is an obligation on every employer, and I should like to have from the Minister a little more information. He has not told us what the increase in the premiums will be as a result of the Bill, or what the increase in the case of industrial or agricultural production will be. I am sure he will admit that every time you place an obligation on a certain section of the community to make a particular contribution, you are increasing, to some extent or other, the cost of production, and thereby raising the cost of living.

It is disappointing, particularly when it comes from a Minister for Social Welfare and more particularly from the Leader of the Labour Party, to hear him say that when a man becomes incapacitated by reason of an accident at his work he and his family are to be compelled to live on a sum of 50/- per week. I am sure the Minister will agree with me—but he smiles. He has said that hitherto they were compelled to live on the sum of 37/6 per week. We were, however, promised greater benefits. There are very few employees, even labourers in the building trade, who are now in receipt of anything less than £4 10s. 0d. per week, and if, as a result of an accident, such a man is put off the payroll, the family income, which should, if anything, be increased, is reduced to 50/-.

There is another very disappointing feature of the Bill to which I desire to call attention. I cannot understand how the Minister overlooked it. We find that 50/- per week is being made available for a single man who has no dependents. I quite admit, of course, that there are quite a number of them in the country who have as serious obligations to shoulder as many married men. But the proposal in the Bill is 50/- per week for each person who comes under the Workmen's Compensation Act, regardless of whether he is married or single. I am sure the Minister will agree with me that a married man with a family has many heavy obligations to meet. He has to keep a house, pay rent and rates and all the rest. Last night, on another Bill, we had a long discussion on the difficulty that quite a number of our people find in meeting the payment of their rates. All the obligations which a married man has to meet will, of course, continue when he goes off his employer's payroll as the result of an accident. We now have a proposal coming from a Labour Minister that a man who may be in receipt of an income of £4, £5 or £6 a week will have that income reduced to 50/- a week if he is unfortunate enough to meet with an accident. That accident may have occurred as a result of his interest in his firm's work. But the fact is that when he meets with an accident, his income will be reduced to 50/- per week. Despite all the criticism that we heard in the past, we are now going to compel that man and his family during his period of incapacity, to supplement his income by going on public assistance. That is what we find in a Bill put before us by the Minister for Social Welfare. He told us many times in the past, he told us during the last general election campaign and for many years before that, that in order to correct a situation of that sort, all that was required was the will to put into operation, at the shortest notice, a comprehensive social security plan that would make provision for people equal to that which they are able to have when in employment.

The Workmen's Compensation Act of 1934 provided for a maximum weekly payment of 30/-. Under the Emergency Powers Act (No. 27 of 1934) this was increased to 37/6. That Emergency Powers Order is now being revoked. Another Order will require to be made by the Minister to give effect to the provisions of this Bill. I may say that we on this side are prepared to facilitate the Minister in every way to enable him to give effect to the provisions in this Bill, even though we are not satisfied that it is going to do all the things that we would wish. As I have said, the mere passing of it is not going to be sufficient. In order to bring it into operation, an Order will have to be made by the Minister. When that Order will be made will rest, of course, with the Minister himself. I am sure, however, that he will give effect as early as possible to what is contained in this Bill.

Another point is that money has to be found for this purpose. Payments will have to be made. While we might all be anxious to give money, regardless of where it comes from, we must take cognisance of the fact that it has to be got. I should like to know what will be the position of employers who have entered into agreements with insurance companies to cover their workmen over specified periods? The premiums in these cases, I take it, are based on the number of workmen insured, and on the fact that certain payments would be made in the case of accident. In other words, contracts have been entered into. Despite that fact, we are now going to compel people who had not contracted to do a particular thing to do it. We are saying to them that they must go further, and do what is laid down in the Bill. I am sure that matter has got serious consideration. If the insurance companies are prepared to be as generous as the Minister would like them to be, then I have no complaint to make. If insurance premiums are increased as a result of this Bill, that will have certain reactions on, for example, the erection of houses, and our housing problem may be described I suppose, as an emergency one at the present time.

While the Minister may claim a certain amount of credit for bringing forward this Bill, I would like to point out that there is no State contribution being given under it. We are just compelling people to do something that they had not contracted to do. The worst feature of it is, I think, that it makes no differentiation between the married and the single man. As I have said, the married man has many obligations to meet. If he meets with an accident, his income is going to be cut from £5 or £6 a week to 50/- a week. That will be his only source of income.

That is the present position with 37/6.

Yes, but, as I have already pointed out, the Minister is not only the Minister for Social Welfare, but as Leader of the Labour Party, he put it before the country on many occasions that his Party had a solution for all those problems and that it was only a matter of putting them in a position to implement their policy and their programme. We now find that he comes along and tells the workers of the country who are in receipt of £5 or £6 a week that if they are removed from their employer's payroll as a result of an accident, they will have to be content with 50/- a week, so that their families and themselves will be reduced to the position of having to seek home assistance. No family could exist in reasonable comfort on 50/- a week.

There are other aspects of the Bill that I do not wish to go into. We have had many of these compensation cases before our courts from time to time. Some of these aspects of the Bill have been dealt with at length by the legal people in the Dáil. We have been told by the Minister that this is only just a stop-gap, something that we should be asked to pass immediately in order to give benefits to those people for a very short time. We have heard that during the last six or eight months the increases in the widows' and orphans' pensions and old age pensions were just introduced as stop-gaps, and that the Minister was in the course of preparing a comprehensive scheme. Will the Minister say whether workmen's compensation will form any part of that comprehensive scheme or if it is going to be outside of it? If it is, then I think we should have a more comprehensive Bill before us than the one we are discussing. If, however, it is going to be part of the comprehensive scheme, we can pardon him.

I do not intend to detain the House further on this Bill. We welcome even the small advance that has been made in it. We are prepared to facilitate the Minister in giving it an early passage so that those who are to benefit under it will have those benefits conferred on them at the earliest possible moment. I hope the Minister will do something to rectify what must be admitted by every member of the House to be an injustice—that is, the placing of married men and single men on the same basis. If the Minister is prepared to make that correction in the Bill, I am sure that the Dáil would not object to come back in Christmas week —we see that it has decided to take a long holiday—to rectify that injustice.

It is an advantage that Senator Hawkins should plead so strongly as he has done for an improvement in the rates of benefit to be provided for people who are injured in the case of industrial accidents. This question has been raised on a number of occasions, as to compensating people who, through no fault of their own, are injured in the course of their employment; and it is the first time that any member of the Fianna Fáil Party suggested that there should be discrimination between the rates paid to a single man and those paid to a married man.

Would the Senator take up the Seanad debates on any question that arose during that particular time?

I am prepared to listen to the Senator quoting. Prior to 1934 the rate of benefit payable to a person who was totally incapacitated by accident was 35/- per week. The Minister for Industry and Commerce who was in office in 1934 brought in a Bill providing 30/- a week. In other words, the rate of benefit was reduced in 1934, for the people already in receipt of benefit, by 5/- a week. I did not hear any protests from the members of the Fianna Fáil Party when that was being done. There was a positive reduction of 5/-per week, being effected by the introduction of a Bill which passed through this House in 1934. Now we have Senator Hawkins making the case that some terrible injustice has been done, and any casual reader might easily imagine that the purpose of this Bill was to reduce the rate of benefit being paid now to persons injured by accident. On the contrary, what is being done in the Bill is to provide an immediate increase of 12/6 per week for every person who to-day is receiving payments in respect of industrial accidents. All these people are going to have an immediate increase of 12/6 per week. The Bill is doing something more than that, it is providing potentially an increase of 20/- a week in the compensation payable for industrial accidents, because the Emergency Powers Order under which 7/6 of the present payment of 37/6 is provided depends for its life on the annual enactment of the Supplies and Services Bill, which passed through this House last night.

Therefore, there is no question about it.

There is no question for 12 months, but Deputy de Valera, on the last occasion he spoke in respect of the Supplies and Services Bill in this House, promised to drop it as early as possible. He undertook to the people in this House who were opposed to that temporary measure, that it would be dropped as early as possible. Senator Hawkins shakes his head; but it is on the records of the House. It is obvious to everyone that, being a temporary measure, an Act continued from one year to another, it is not going to continue for a very long period of years. Some permanent measure will have to be found to replace it in respect of a number of the things which are preserved under that temporary Act. One of those things is the increment of 7/6 provided under the Emergency Powers Order made in 1944. Let us not contemplate what would happen if the temporary measure of 1946 is not continued: it is enough to say that this Bill provides an immediate increase of 12/6 for every person now in receipt of compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1934 or under any of the older Acts—that of 1906, 1897 or 1900, or other Acts. There cannot be many of them now, but it is conceivable that there are many people who got compensation under the Act of 1906, when the limit was £1 per week, and who are going to be brought up to 50/-.

Two questions have been raised by Senator Hawkins. One is this discrimination in favour of married men. He himself was quick to admit that there must be many single men with dependents, so it is not merely a question of saying that a married man should have £5 and a single man 50/-. That does not meet the case. One must consider the question of dependency as a whole, and it is not something you can settle by putting down a short amendment to this Bill. It is obvious that, if we come back this week and even the following week to get this Bill through by the 1st January, we still could not get all the matters he wants put into it. I think he is suffering under an illusion on the principle of legislation.

I have recollection of having read a document prepared by the Senator that would make provision for cases of this kind.

Certainly, and I am coming to that now, since that is the only sensible thing I have heard to-day from Senator Hawkins on the subject. There is a method of dealing with this scheme, but it is not the method that Senator Hawkins suggested, of amending this Bill. You cannot do that; you must have a new principle. I am going to suggest to the Senator — and apparently he has been studying the matter—that you have to take this plan out of the hands of insurance companies if you are to make proper provision for people injured in the course of their employment. I do not think the Senator is aware that, out of every £1 paid in premiums by the ordinary employer to protect himself against claims under the Workmen's Compensation Act, the insurance company puts 10/-in its pocket, or roughly 50 per cent. As a matter of fact, when the inquiry was held by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, before the 1934 Act was introduced, the evidence given then showed that only 48 per cent. of the premium income was returned by the insurance companies to the injured workmen—and that that 48 per cent. included the lawyers' and doctors' fees incurred by him in establishing his claim under the Act. If there is to be proper provision for injured workmen, we must proceed on a totally different basis. If the Senator has read closely the document to which he has already referred, he will discover that that was recognised by some of us many years ago.

There are other matters that require to be dealt with in the amending legislation to which the Minister has already referred. I do not know whether we can discuss them here. I am afraid we cannot, because we are merely concerned with increasing the weekly payment, subject to other small rectifications of the law as it stands. I do not want to spread myself out on that. It is enough to say that I am satisfied there is a good case for leaving the whole question over to be dealt with in a new measure based on new principles. I think you have got to have workmen's compensation tied up with unemployment insurance, with sickness insurance and with the general scheme which is now universally described under the heading of social security. I think this must be linked up with the social scheme as a whole. My own view about it is that it should be based on the principle that when a man is ill he should get adequate compensation under some heading, whether you call it sickness benefit or compensation or whatever you may call it. If he is ill and unable to follow his occupation and he has a wife or others depending on him, there must be some scheme by which anxiety would be removed from his home to give him a chance to recover rapidly without suffering, in addition to his other ailments, the anxiety which poverty is bound to cause.

I suggest that we ought not to delay in considering whether this Bill should be amended. I do not think it can. There were amendments put down in the Dáil, but they were ruled out on the ground that they were outside the scope of the Bill and proposed to widen it. I do not think we can do very much about it. But what you can do is to give encouragement to the Minister to proceed with a different scheme, a scheme which will provide adequate benefit in such circumstances that a person need not go into court and waste his money trying to establish before the court whether or not he has been injured by an accident, or whether he is malingering or not.

I should like to deal with two points for the consideration of the Minister. One is the undoubted increase which there will be upon employers on the passing of this Bill. I want to deal with one section of employers with whom I have some familiarity, and that is the farming community. Whatever Senator Duffy may say about insurance companies it is quite clear that, on the passing of this Bill there will be a serious increase in the premiums that must be paid under the Workmen's Compensation Act. I know that these premiums are heavy enough as it is upon the farmer, and I should like to address my remarks to what I call the smaller farmer who has two or three workmen. Such an increased weekly payment will mean something to him and something very definitely oppressive upon him. As Senator Hawkins suggests, we have already heard about an increase and, possibly, a further increase of rates.

We are hearing continuously about the burden laid upon the employer. I am not so much interested in the larger employer, who has ways and means of shifting the burden off his shoulders on to the shoulders of the consumers. In the case of the smaller farmer, however, this is going to be a heavy cost. I am going to ask the Minister, when he comes to the comprehensive code which he promised to introduce, not to be bound by the 50/—-I am going to say, to be absolutely fair, that possibly he may think the 50/- too little—but that he will not be bound by a calculation to-day that will be very different even in the few months when he comes to make his final calculation in connection with the comprehensive scheme, because it is quite possible that by the time he comes to make his comprehensive scheme such employers as I am discussing will either have had their prices increased, in which event they will be better able to pay the increased charges, or they may have their overheads increased elsewhere, in which event they will be less able to pay. It is unnecessary for me to say to the Minister, because he is well aware of the fact, that he cannot go on injecting air in the inflationary balloon all the time, because it will burst at some stage. This is a further injection of air into the inflationary balloon.

As a person who has practised in the courts and earned good or bad fees, depending on your views of lawyers, out of this Act, I may say that in many cases at the moment farmers are not insuring under the Act. For what it is worth, I should like to issue this warning to the Minister—that, if you make the premiums very much higher, fewer smaller farmers will insure, and you will have the cases of extreme hardship that I come across every second week in the courts where a man has a leg whipped off in a threshing machine or his arm taken off in a sawmill and he is not insured and we never can get a penny piece from the farmer who employs him.

I was very interested in Senator Hawkins' views in regard to the married man. He is in agreement with the principle in the Act that, when a man has met with a catastrophe, he should be recompensed for it. But it seems to me that he wants to compensate a man for a further catastrophe, and that is for being married. I do not think that is very complimentary to his wife. Perhaps, the Senator will think about that. With all respect to Senator Hawkins, who has been far longer in this House than I have been, we could not workably differentiate between the married and the unmarried man, for this reason, to give a simple example. If a man the day after he is married meets with an injury, he gets paid more than he would if he met with an injury the day before his wedding, although he is engaged to get married. If he works on the day before his wedding and is injured, he has to do with the 37/6 until such time as a change comes here. How you are to differentiate between the married man and the unmarried man I cannot see, or the married man with one child and the married man with five or six children. I believe that the married man who meets with an injury is harder hit. I would say, however, to Senator Hawkins that I do not think that any system of legislation can effectively help the married man as against the single man. To sum up, I urge on the Minister to give some indication that he is sympathetic towards the view I am putting, that this increased cost is putting a further load on the type of person I am speaking for, namely, the smaller farmer, which he is ill-suited to bear at the moment.

I agree with what Senator Hawkins said and with what Senator Duffy said. Consequently, they both agree with each other.

That is not necessarily so.

I take up consideration of this Bill with the remarks which have been made by Senator Sweetman. I cannot see how you will differentiate in the payment of compensation between the married man and the single man. As Senator Duffy put it, why should a married man with dependents get preferential treatment over a single man with dependents? It seems to me there is a simple solution to the whole problem. If, as the Minister says, compensation for total incapacity is to be fixed at 50/-, or any figure at all, if there is total incapacity, compensation, in my opinion, should be fixed at the amount that the man was learning when he was injured. That will cover both the married man and the single man. That is the only fair basis on which compensation could be assessed, I think, because if a man suffers total incapacity and is prevented by an accident from earning his living again, surely he is entitled to such compensation as will enable him to continue to live, to rear his family or to maintain his dependents in the same way as he was doing prior to the accident. That is one point, I think, that should be considered. It does not come under this Bill, but as the principle will have to be considered at some time, and, as new legislation and, perhaps, a whole new principle will be adopted in the future, I think it should be kept in mind. I do not see any equity in awarding a man less than he was able to earn because, by an accident, he has been rendered unfit or incapable of earning anything.

Senator Sweetman also pointed out that insurance was not compulsory. I suppose that under the new scheme which is in contemplation it will be compulsory just as other forms of insurances are, but he mentioned, as somebody before him did, that whatever increase there may be in contemplation there is bound to be an increase in the premiums charged by the insurance companies to cover the increased compensation. Maybe there will be, but that does not necessarily seem to involve an increase in the cost of living. The increase in the cost of the premium will not be such an enormous amount on the small farmer that the cost of living will go up on the people in the cities. Even if it did, however, mean a considerable sum on an employer who employs a great number of people, I think it is more equitable that an employer should have to pay increased premiums, if he must, rather than that the workers should continue to risk the loss of life or a limb without adequate compensation. It is a choice of two evils, whether it is a greater hardship on the employer to have to pay a couple of pence or a shilling a week—though perhaps it would not be absolutely necessary to pay an additional shilling or two—or that to save him from that the workman must accept inadequate payments such as are made now and as will be made even when this temporary measure is passed. I have no criticism of this as a temporary measure which is a considerable improvement on the position as it is at present, but it is only a temporary measure. I hope that when the Minister comes to examine the whole question of compensation he will evolve some newer and better scheme to deal with all the problems which are left undealt with or unsatisfactorily dealt with under the Bills we have at present.

I welcome the introduction of this Bill because I think it is only time that people should get more compensation in case of injury than they have received in the past. The increase in the premiums will not be such that any employers, I think, will find the burden of them anything to cry about.

I would like to ask the Minister when he is introducing the new insurance Act to ensure as far as possible that people who are not entitled to compensation do not get it. There have been many unrecorded miracles in the past and I believe that employers and workers alike would hope to see this thing stopped, because insurance in some cases can become a burden. In the building trade at present workmen's compensation insurance is very heavy. I believe that if a number of these false claims could be exposed there would be a reduction. Action has been taken in other countries which has narrowed down the number of miracles that take place.

While Senator Hawkins was speaking, I was thinking that maybe it was a pity that he did not become an artist rather than a politician.

He is both.

They are not in conflict, of course.

He painted a wonderful picture, but nobody else could see what Senator Hawkins saw because he only saw what he wanted to see himself. He never mentioned the fact that in the last few months the Government which we have at present had increased the old age pensions, the blind pensions, the widows' and orphans' pensions, unemployment insurance and unemployment assistance. He certainly forgot to tell us that when his own Government was in power they were more interested in having luxury hotels and wasting money on Córas Iompair Eireann than in providing decent social services. I would like to tell him that in the future it would be much better if he did not paint these pictures for us because now and again some of us see through these pictures that he paints.

I wonder if Senator Burke before resuming his seat would tell us why the present Minister for Industry and Commerce made money available for Córas Iompair Eireann which he objects to now?

Mr. Burke

I may not reply.

I am very happy to welcome this Bill, and I consider it long overdue. Reference has been made to the possibility of fear arising in the minds of small farmers at the possibility of increased premiums, but, as far as my knowledge goes of small farmers in Ireland, there are no grounds for any fear of that nature, because surely the small farmer is really concerned with having proper provision for his injured workmen. I think that up and down through the country you will find no instance where the small farmer and employer would like to see his injured workmen put on the basis of compensation that we have known in past years. I rose to speak on this Bill for that reason alone, that I think it is unjust to attribute to small farmers the possibility of a fear arising from the possibility of his paying a higher premium on his policy of insurance. The farmer regrets as much as anybody in the country the miserable pittances which have been paid to workmen in the past. The Minister is to be congratulated on bringing in this Bill, and providing the machinery for increased compensation in very deserving cases.

I have not very much to say on this Bill and my principal object in rising is to ask the Minister a question. I agree with Senator Woulfe that the small farmer, the large farmer or any class of farmer, has no objection, and that they would feel very sorry if a workman injured in their employment was not properly compensated. As Senator Hawkins said, the whole cost of the insurance is going to come from paying bigger premiums, and no farmer will object if it is necessary to pay bigger premiums. There is one point where I would not agree with Senator Woulfe, when he said how anxious they are for compensation for their employees. There are still a big number of them who, to my knowledge, are not insured under the Workmen's Compensation Act, and it is very foolish for themselves. As Senator Sweetman pointed out, he has cases in the court every day where they are not insured, and where an injured workman cannot get any compensation whatever except by selling out a farmer. I feel that if it were made compulsory on employers employing workmen to take out insurance, it would lower the premiums for those who are anxious to have their insurance properly set out.

Objection has been taken to the Bill on the ground that the amount of compensation, 50/-, is small, but the position is that, if a man, during a period of incapacity, is to get the same amount as he earns when working, there is a great danger of malingering taking place. The man who is not working constantly is not entitled to the full compensation and I think the 50/- is very reasonable. I know of one case, and there are possibly others, of a farmer who had two accidents involving employees within a year and his insurance company refused to take him on. He felt very sore about it, because it looked as if it were being suggested that he was standing in with his workmen to get the compensation, which was quite untrue. If an insurance company refuses to take on a farmer, is there any provision to compel the company to do so? I understand that there is not at present, and I should like to know if the Minister, in the new Bill, will make it compulsory on an insurance company to accept an employer who wishes to take out insurance.

Or get rid of the insurance companies altogether.

Something must be done, because that is a definite case I know of and I can give the Minister full particulars, if he wants them. There should be some provision for the protection of the farmer in the new Bill when his employee is being protected in this Bill.

A number of the speeches made here to-day emphasise the point that the only satisfactory and ideal way to deal with this whole matter eventually under the comprehensive scheme is State insurance against accidents, and I believe we should try to work up public opinion so that the public will eventually agree to that solution. This measure, as a temporary measure, is a very good move in the right direction, and I believe that many thousands of people throughout the country will be very pleased and will congratulate the Minister on the improvement which is being brought about. But it should be emphasised that it is only a temporary measure, until such time as the comprehensive scheme can be brought in.

One point against this proposal which has been mentioned is that 50/- a week, although a good deal better than was ever paid in the past, may be small to the man who has been earning £8 or £10 a week. In reply to that point, I think the man earning £8 or £10 a week could well afford to take out a private insurance policy to get additional cover for himself in case of accident, if he wished to receive more than 50/-.

A wage of £8 or £10 a week was never mentioned, so far as I can recollect.

I understand that the scheme is to cover people with incomes up to £500 per year, which would include people with £8 and £10 almost a week. As I said, these people could afford to have a private insurance policy to supplement the 50/-. The 50/-per week will, I think, be heartily welcomed by tens of thousands of wage-earners with small incomes, because it is far more than they ever got before, and agricultural labourers and others in that income group will regard it as a wonderful improvement. If we are to have a satisfactory comprehensive scheme, however, I believe that public opinion will have to be gradually worked up, until such time as the nation as a whole is willing to spend more of the national income on social insurance. I believe that, as a nation, we could afford to spend more on social insurance, I believe it would be a very good way for us to spend more of our income, instead of spending as much as is now spent by the wealthy sections of the community on luxuries and amusements. If more of the national income were spent on social insurance it would mean greater happiness for many thousands of people during sickness and during disablement resulting from accidents, and it would mean a happier nation as a whole.

I understood the Minister to say that he was very loath to interfere with workmen's compensation provisions because of the near approach of the Social Services Bill. It would possibly be unfair to ask the Minister to give even an approximate date for the introduction of that Bill, but I take it the Minister envisages workmen's compensation as being part of it. He did not say that and I wonder if he was deliberately skirting around the point.

The real matter is that this compensation takes the form of a flat rate of compensation, because of the very different earnings of various sections. I quite see that there would be tremendous difficulty in finding out, in the case of every employee, his weekly earnings, but certainly, as between the agricultural labourer and the skilled artisan, there is an injustice in the flat rate. I am not suggesting that the Minister should hold up this measure and make alterations in it, but I want to point out to him that the whole workmen's compensation code is frightfully complicated. There are, I think, three sets of procedure open to a workman who receives an injury, without taking into account what usually happens, namely, the employer saying to the worker: "You have received an injury which was not your fault, and I think you are entitled to compensation." Another point is that there is a frightful difficulty in separating the genuine cases of injury and the cases in which the worker feels that he is presented with an opportunity of making a bit of money. I am not suggesting for a moment that there are not genuine accidents from which great hardships arise, but I should like the Minister to deal with these points when replying.

I was spurred into making a few remarks by the suggestions put forward by Senator Denis Burke, who, I am afraid, was preparing to step into the inflationary balloon when he told us how to spend our income. How to spend our income is a subject for a first-class debate.

I suggest that, before the Minister considers bringing forward his comprehensive scheme, he should take some solid evidence of what the income is, and where it comes from. Nobody can deny that the scheme that he has brought in is an excellent one and that, perhaps, it was overdue. We hear a lot about the small farmer. I do not know if he is to be judged by the area of land that he occupies or by the part that his head or his heart plays in controlling him. It would, in my opinion, be a healthier sign for the nation if the Government would examine the question: what is the difference between the small farmer and the big farmer who attempts to pay his workers a living wage? In my opinion, the big farmer is a greater asset to the country. From the point of view of production, he is producing more. A man requires to have a certain acreage of land to enable him to give the best results to the State. If the land is not rested, it will lose its fertility. Far be it from me to fault the present Minister for Agriculture for what he has done.

Surely the Senator will agree that the House is not dealing with soil fertility on this Bill.

We are dealing with the fertility of the farmer's pocket.

The House is dealing with the Workmen's Compensation Bill.

And the money for the workman must come out of the land. The workman must come out of the land the same as myself and yourself, and all of us must go back to it—six feet of it. I get tired listening to all the talk there is about the small farmer. The big farmer is four times a more desirable man from the point of view of the State. He has to try and give a living wage to his workers. The small farmer is working for himself, and his children are helping him.

I suggest that the Senator come back to the Bill.

I know that there is a prejudice against the big farmer. It is a national prejudice. It may not exist in the Chairman. I am not saying that. It was Senator R. Burke's speech, as to how we should spend our income, that brought me to my feet. We are told that we are to have a comprehensive scheme from the Minister. Where is the money to come from for that? I ask Senators to grasp this fact that the big farmer should be encouraged, to enable him to pay a living wage to his workers. Do not burden him with further additional rates and taxes. In my early days, I was told that these charges should not represent more than one-tenth of a man's income. I ask Senators, in conclusion, to remember the sacrifices that have been demanded from the land and the country in the past 16 years.

It is fortunate for me that I have not to approach the consideration of this Bill from the point of view of the farmer. I feel that I should say right out that I think the Minister is deserving of congratulations on the forward step he has taken in this Bill. In my young days I worked at the bench and in the machine shop, and saw the tragedy that could come to a man, through no fault of his own, but because of an incapacity he suffered as a result of an accident at his work. We are living in modern times. We have got a more enlightened outlook than people had 40 years ago. I feel that we are going to make a big step forward by allaying a lot of quite reasonable discontent by removing from the workman, to some extent at all events, the fear of want that hitherto faced him when, by reason of an accident, he was unable to continue his employment.

Now a good case can be made for State insurance in this particular matter. I hate State interference so much that I am not going to advocate it. I feel, however, that since the provisions in this Bill are going to mean what I shall describe as a new load for the farmer and the industrialist, it should not be possible for insurance companies catering for workers, or for insurance generally, either to refuse business or to increase premiums. I am all for private enterprise in insurance. I feel that it should be within the realms of possibility and probability that, when the insurance companies are confronted with the new problems arising from this Bill, uniform rates can be established and can be uniformly applied to all sorts of risks incidental to the payment of these additional benefits.

We have had speeches from the two Senator Burkes. I am going to deal first with the speech which was made by Senator Robert Burke. He urged that more money should be spent on social insurance schemes than on luxuries or amusements. Unless I misunderstood him, the inference to be drawn from the Senator's speech was that it was the better classes who were squandering money on amusements. I would suggest to the Senator that he should take a walk down O'Connell Street some night, and see for himself the huge queues outside the picture houses, and, in addition, should make a study of the people who compose these queues. If he does so I think he will find that to the extent of 95 per cent. they are composed of what I shall call, for the want of a better word, the working classes. I suggest that a big proportion of the wages that are being paid in the country are going on that type of amusement. Of course, it is quite within the competence of a worker to do that if he wishes. Let us not, however, confuse the issue, or imagine that it is the better class people who are prodigal in the spending of money. In my opinion it is the other way about—that working class people are more prodigal in the spending of money than the better off people.

Senator Denis Burke referred to the possibility of malingering. I have dealt with this on other aspects of social insurance and I do not think the danger is as great in the case of a man injured in his job, as in the case of a man temporarily incapacitated and who holds on to the benefit rather than go back to work. My experience is that a man injured by accident is very anxious to get back to work. This is a temporary measure, but it is a move in the right direction, and will give some relief from grievances of working men, industrious men, with limited incomes, who are incapacitated by accident and have to run into debt until they can get back to work.

I welcome the Bill, like Senator Summerfield, and am rather perturbed by the attacks on State insurance in the course of this debate. I suppose we are no different from other people and are always anxious to get something for nothing. Over the years there have been complaints from two sides—the meagre amount of the old age pension compensation and other services—and still we are not prepared to pay for them. We expect to find an unlimited pool here into which we can dip and take out without questioning where we shall get the wherewithal to fill the pool. There is no use in saying that we are opposed to State insurance and would rather have private insurance. That is all very well, but human nature being what it is, very few of us favour insurance for any purpose at all, particularly for sickness or accident. In the main, when anything happens we depend on the State.

I do not see why Senator McGee or other employers should object to paying their share to insure their workers, if through accident or sickness they are not able to carry on their work. The trouble is—and the Minister admitted it on the last occasion, when he was dealing with other social services legislation which he introduced—that there has always been objection from the trade union point of view, which represents the working class, about the amount of money that is to be got if a person becomes sick or meets with an accident. The remedy for that is to increase the insurance for sickness and to put the old age pension on a voluntary basis. I always felt it was rather strange that, when an accident happens, the amount of money given was so small. It has been increased, I know, but I agree with Senators who state that there should be something of a differential rate between rural and city or borough areas in the case of accidents. I appreciate that you can raise this compensation too near the regular rate in the district and may encourage malingering. Senator Summerfield says there is not much danger of malingering in the case of this particular social service, but you will have it in others. If the Minister meets the suggestion about differential rates, I think the city worker should be prepared to pay more for his compensation than you ask the rural worker to pay. I welcome this Bill and believe it will mark an improvement in the position.

I wish to support this Bill. My views have always been a little unorthodox, as it always seemed to me that workmen's compensation for injury is an essential part of the cost of production or distribution. It is inevitable that there will be accidents, even though we take every care to minimise them, while there is progress and change; and the cost of these accidents is part of the cost of production or distribution as the case may be. It has to be borne and treated as part of the actual cost. Therefore, it does not seem to me that it can be viewed exactly in the same way as an additional tax. We are not dealing with what is proper or reasonable profit, as profit must include adequate compensation.

I have never felt that the law is really proper or satisfactory in the case of injury. I cannot help feeling that, particularly where there are dependents, during the time in which a man is incapacitated, he wants not less but rather more wages to get him back to his job. I am not dealing with it purely from the sentimental point of view, though I have a certain amount of sentimental feeling in regard to it. If the man is to take his place in industry, he will not do so as quickly if the wage he gets during the period he is out is so low that he cannot get better and keep his family at the same time. Therefore, I have personally always supported improvements and would be prepared to go considerably further than this Bill goes. Every man and woman—but particularly men—who has dependents, has a duty to be insured against accidents. If the State should come in and provide that it is done by the employer where the level is such that the persons cannot be reasonably expected to do it themselves, I would personally like—though I do not suppose I would support the Bill and I am sure if I were Minister I would not be prepared to introduce it—that we could get such a public opinion that every man, when he got married, and certainly when he had children, would feel a moral duty on his part to provide against accidents.

Most of us have life policies.

That raises another point, which I will not deal with now. I am dealing with the question of life. There is a moral duty, and the State steps in in the case of the lower-paid workers. I would like everyone— leaving out whether it is the duty of the churches to deal with this or not —to feel a moral duty, on getting married, and particularly on having children, to provide for insurance out of his income. Whether he has a higher wage, sufficient to enable him to provide for accidents, or whether it has to be done through the employer, it is something morally desirable, and it is good politics.

Therefore, I support the Bill, and would be prepared to support it even further. I know there is a difficulty, particularly in sickness, in regard to malingering, but I entirely agree with Senator Summerfield that it is not difficult to prevent malingering in the case of accidents, which can be dealt with easily by the doctors. I will not be satisfied until it is possible to provide that a man who meets with an accident in the course of his employment, which is part of his job, is able to draw, for some reasonable time, the sum which he was earning when he was working. I believe that that is part of the total cost of the goods or services rendered, and that it is the rate at which he should be paid.

There is no more pitiable spectacle than the man who, through accident, is deprived of the power of providing for himself and his family. Therefore, anything that can be done to help him should be welcomed generously by both sides of the House. The Workmen's Compensation Acts were almost the first glimmer of a social conscience; and as the social conscience develops so should this particular aspect of it be discussed in a more enlightened way. I welcome this Bill because it means progress. We know that 50/- a week in these times is not enough, but it it better than 37/6, so we should be glad that it is secured to the people who need it.

The whole question needs a great deal of consideration and it has not been easy to give that consideration on a Bill of such limited scope as the present one. It would be wise of the Minister to bring in a Bill of wider scope than the present one. This is, in a way, an emergency Bill to meet the harsh conditions that are imposed on people by the high cost of living. The Minister's object is to ease that hardship to some extent. This Bill does that and, for that reason, I for my part and for those who think as I do on this side, will congratulate the Minister on having introduced it.

I rise to support the Bill. I was impressed by the remarks of Senator Douglas with regard to the necessity for everybody being insured, even out of his own private resources. For the last couple of years it has been brought home to me, and I think to anybody who reads the newspapers, that scarcely a season passes but you have some accidents in connection with threshing. Of course I think there is a good deal of carelessness in connection with that. It is only in the past four or five years in the West of Ireland that many of these threshing sets have been in use. Anybody knowing the West will understand that on threshing days it is usual for a number of farmers to join and assist. If a farmer cannot go himself to help a neighbour, he sends a man, if he has a man. While many farmers pay the national health insurance for their men, I think the percentage of them who insure under the Workmen's Compensation Act is very small. I am speaking of farmers who employ a man or two. Very few of them, I think, have their men insured under the Act. I would go so far as to suggest that it would be wise for the Government to take steps to make insurance under the Workmen's Compensation Act compulsory. In connection with the giving of licences to tractor owners and owners of threshing sets, I think it should be made compulsory on them to take out a comprehensive policy of insurance. Some of them have such a policy, but quite a number have not. The result is that when an accident occurs great hardship is caused, and it might mean the wiping out of a small farmer.

I support this Bill as I believe the increase is badly needed. I agree with Senator Douglas when he says that the man who meets with an accident would really need as much if not more than he had been earning before. I am sure everybody will agree with the principle of the Bill. In that respect, I should like to point out, however, the effects of the increased premiums. We ought to consider carefully the effect of these. I believe that the time is coming when the State will have to take a hand in this kind of insurance, as it would be beyond the means of the ordinary farmers. Those engaged in agriculture find that insurance companies have the greatest dislike to taking on this kind of insurance. Only one or two of them will undertake it now. Very often farmers find the greatest difficulty in getting an insurance company to insure them under the Act. The premiums have been very high for some years back and, without doubt, they will be raised further now.

There are two points in connection with the increase to which I should like to refer. The last speaker told us that a very large proportion of the farmers in the West do not insure at all. That is a very serious thing, because it means that, when an accident occurs, the injured man is perhaps left helpless for the rest of his life and has no means of getting anything from his employer if that employer is a poor man. It means also that the farmers are subjected to very heavy law costs. There is a great deal to be said for the principle of compulsory insurance. Perhaps, if insurance was compulsory there would be more equitable premiums.

I should like to emphasise that in raising these insurance premiums, together with raising the National Health Insurance contribution and the other contributions, you are placing an unduly heavy burden on the man who employs labour as compared with the man who does not employ labour. For instance, a farmer with good land has two alternatives. He can work his farm and keep cows, etc., and employ men or he can simply turn in dry cattle on it and employ no men except the one in his gate lodge and make more profits even than the working farmer. You put a premium on that kind of farmer, the non-working farmer, and you increase the burden on the man who does work his farm. In the long run, you will hit the workers, because, the greater the burden, the fewer men will be employed. On the whole, I think there is no escape from the fact that the State will eventually have to take up this question of insurance and, if insurance is made compulsory, the premiums will be placed on a more equitable basis so that they will not bear unduly on industry.

Senator Hawkins opened with criticism of this Bill, a very artificial criticism, of course, as the Senator almost felt himself. If he were not the "good companion" that I believe him to be, I might make serious comments and, perhaps, harsh comments on the criticism which he attempted to offer. May I, however, compliment the Senator on making a brave show with very poor material in an effort to write down what he must know in his heart as a citizen, even though he may not pretend to know it as a Fianna Fáil Senator, is a good Bill?

Let us get the background of this whole business. In 1934 an Act was passed by the Fianna Fáil Government, and from 1934 until 1943 nothing was done to increase the compensation payable to insured workmen. In fact, when the Fianna Fáil Government passed the 1934 Act, the maximum compensation up to then payable to an insured workman was 35/- per week. The Fianna Fáil Government in the 1934 Workmen's Compensation Act reduced the maximum from 35/- to 30/- per week in the case of total incapacity. Therefore, the Fianna Fáil Government, having started out in 1934 to bring down the ceiling of compensation from 35/- to 30/-, did nothing from then until 1943, when, by pressure of economic circumstances, they stepped up the compensation from a maximum of 30/- per week to a maximum of 37/6 per week. In other words, they provided for an increase in weekly compensation by 25 per cent. That is where Fianna Fáil left workmen's compensation benefits between 1934 and December, 1938. Fianna Fáil stepped up workmen's compensation benefits by 25 per cent., but this Bill is doing one simple job and it is stepping up the compensation, not by 25 per cent. but by 66 per cent. If you look at the Bill from the point of view of the injured workman, whether he meets with an accident in the future or whether he has met with an accident in the past, I think it is doing a very good job, and I think that, privately, Senator Hawkins would agree with that, although he made a pretty brave show this afternoon with very poor material, and it was obvious that he had not his heart in the case he was trying to make.

Senator Hawkins was in a very difficult role this evening and it is always a difficult role for anybody in a similar position to be on both sides of the fence at the same time. Senator Hawkins said "it should be better" and then he put a barricade before that pious aspiration of his saying "What is the cost of this to the farmer?" The whole background of workmen's compensation is that the workman does not insure himself under the Workmen's Compensation Act. The traditional practice here and in Britain has been that the employer is compelled to insure his injured workman. If you wanted to take the line that the injured workman is entitled to full pay when he is injured, well and good; you can do it and we can frame legislation accordingly, but you cannot suggest that you are entitled at the same time to say, "What about the cost to the man who pays?" That was Senator Hawkins' particularly difficult role this evening. He showed, however, a skill which at times I admired, during the course of his speech. He managed for a short time, though rather uneasily, to ride both horses, but I think he was very glad when he was on the ground of reality again. Senator Hawkins said that the compensation should be better. Maybe it should, but is this a fair point to put to Senator Hawkins in a vocational Seanad? Whatever the difficulties of workmen's compensation have been—and they have been bad for 14 years and particularly bad since 1939—nobody as far as I know, prevented the last Government from stepping up the rates of benefit, nor was the legislative programme terribly crowded because I think we passed Bills regulating the netting of immature fish and regulating tidal waters under the Fianna Fáil Government and heaven knows if Senator Hawkins broached the stepping up of the rates of workmen's compensation I have a shrewd suspicion that his influence in the Fianna Fáil Party is such that the injured workmen's wives and children would at least take precedence over the regulating of tidal waters or the netting of immature fish.

I do not want to make any political point about that at all, but I feel sure that Senator Hawkins is, in fact, behind this Bill and that in yester years or, in fact, in yester months he would be very glad to come in here and say: "This is another milestone on the road to a Fianna Fáil El Dorado." I sympathise with the Deputy in not being able to say that, but I say to him that the El Dorado, as far as it is humanly possible for ordinary mortals on this earth, will be accomplished much more quickly now, as this Bill fairly indicates.

The point has been made by some Senators that we should pay a special rate of benefit to an injured workman who is married and has children compared with the rate paid to the injured workman who is unmarried. Frankly, I am attracted to a scheme of that kind and I have spent a good deal of time examining the matter. I think, however, that it must be examined closely and no examination of the problem can be complete without a knowledge of the imperfections of our present workman's compensation. Our present workmen's compensation code enables an injured workman to recover benefit against an employer but it does not compel an employer to insure, with the result that a person may employ another to do some work for him and if the person employed meets with an accident he can sue the employer. The employer is not compelled to insure, with the result that the employed person must get what he can against whatever estate his employer has with all the possible financial fallibility surrounding the said estate. It has been found that where an employer does not insure, particularly when he is a small employer, very frequently his reluctance to insure is accompanied by an inability for financial reasons to effect the insurance.

Suppose we were to introduce a scheme by which you pay a single man a certain rate of compensation, a married man a much higher rate and a married man with children a still higher rate. I am still attracted to that scheme and I hope that before many years have passed we will see it implemented, but I think that if we follow the present pattern of workmen's compensation legislation we would be making a fatal mistake in doing so because once an employer is not compelled to insure, if he carries his own risk he will want to make that risk as light as possible. He may say: I am going to insure my workmen out of my trouser's pocket and if they meet with an accident I will pay, but to make sure that the demand on my trouser's pocket is not very great, if I have to make a choice of recruiting as a workman a single man or a man who has got a wife and two or more children, my liability will be greater according to the domestic liability of the workman I employ. Take as an example a farmer who says: I want a workman. I cannot afford to insure him because I do not feel like giving the insurance company the premiums they now demand for insurance, but at the same time I want to make sure that if I have to employ him I will have to cover him under the Workmen's Compensation Act because if I do not cover him with an insurance company I will have to pay him myself. Take the case of an individual farmer as a matter of simplicity. When he wants a workman the obvious thing for him, if he wants to reduce his risk under a scheme whereby you pay a higher rate to a married man with children, is to say: I will employ a single workman who has no dependents whatever because that is the cheapest form of workman I can employ under the Workmen's Compensation Act.

If you had a scheme following the present pattern of workmen's compensation legislation whereby you paid preferential rates to married workmen with children you would impose on that individual farmer a liability to face a risk substantially higher than the risk if he employed a single man and preferably a single man without any dependents whatever within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1934.

I still like the scheme by which the married man, his wife and children, would play some part in the fixation of the compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, but you just simply cannot do it under the present pattern of workman's compensation. I hope to do it, but it can only be done under a State scheme of workman's compensation, under which all those who employ people will pay a certain comprehensive contribution and under-which it will avail them nothing whether they employ single or married men, because the whole contribution they pay, with the worker's contribution, will go into a common pool to meet the collective responsibility.

But if I were to attempt under this Bill to provide special rates for the married man with a wife and children, I fear—and I think that trade unionists with the background of Senator Colgan will appreciate this point—that you might put a premium on recruiting single men. While that might not happen in the City of Dublin, where you have organised employers' associations and organised trade unions, the latter having considerable bargaining strength, it might well happen in country areas, because a small contractor doing a road job, a sewerage job or a water job might go to the local exchange and say: "I intend to carry my own workmen's compensation risk but, so that it will be as small as possible, I want you to send me 50 single men, and, if you can, 50 men who have no adult depending on them." If the exchange does not do that, he could still sieve them out by interview, cutting his risk as low as possible. If he chose to take that line, I could not protect the married man under any legislation at my disposal or at the disposal of my predecessor to ensure that he would get a fair chance of employment. If you put a premium for workmen's compensation purposes on the employment of single men, and particularly single men with no dependents, I could not protect the married man.

While I have a lot of sympathy with the point of view so expressed and have explored that point of view many times, and while I still think it would be possible to attain that objective ultimately, it can only be done on the basis of a national scheme of insurance, under which it will not matter to the employer whether his employee is a single or a married man, because his contribution will be the same. From the views expressed here on the subject and in the Dáil, I think that will not be a matter of any profound political disagreement when we reach the stage at which that objective will be attainable.

I think it was Senator Hawkins who expressed some doubt as to the power in the Bill to declare what the appointed day for its implementation will be. The House may take it from me that I want to make this appointed day as soon as possible, and, with the co-operation of the Seanad to-day, I hope to make the appointed day the first of January, so as to make sure that this Bill will go into operation at the earliest opportunity. The "appointed day" is put in the Bill only to convenience the Houses of the Legislature, and I hope it will be possible, with the co-operation of the Seanad, to fulfil my intention of putting the Act into complete operation on the appointed day, so as not only to enable those who may meet with accidents after the appointed day to get the increased compensation payable under the Bill, but so as to make sure that those who have met with accidents in the past and who are now tied down to compensation of 37/6 a week will be enabled to have their compensation stepped up to the maximum of 50/- per week. In doing that I do not think I am doing anything but the barest justice to a large number of people who have seen their compensation tied down to a figure which represents 25 per cent. increase on the 1934 standard, while many, if not all, sections of the community have got substantially greater increases in their remuneration compared with 1934.

I think Senator Hawkins expressed the view that the compensation provided should be greater. If the Senator has any deep feelings in that matter and if the Chair permits him, he can put down an amendment.

The Minister knows that the Chair would not accept it.

And I have the suspicion that the Senator would not like the Chair to accept it. One of his colleagues in the Dáil introduced an amendment the other day—a city Deputy, admittedly—which would have meant that an agricultural worker at present paid £3 per week would get compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act amounting to 69/- per week. I know very well that Senator Hawkins is sufficiently deep in the inner circles of the Party to know that, if he suggested to the Party that an agricultural worker whose foot is injured when a horse stands on it, or who scratches his hand on a nail, should get 69/- per week as compared with 60/- per week when he does a full week's work, things might not be very harmonious at that Party meeting. Senator Hawkins, however, still has rights in the matter, and if he can convince his own Party and the Seanad, he is still entitled to put down amendments to the Bill, but I have looked at it from this point of view. In 1934, the rate was 30/- per week and the present position is that an injured workman gets a 25 per cent. increase on that amount. I propose to give him a 66 per cent. increase on the 1934 rate and I think that is approaching the matter in a reasonable way, bearing in mind that the injured workman has to pay no contribution whatever towards his insurability under the Workmen's Compensation Act.

Senator Sweetman pointed out that one of his fears in connection with the Bill was the cost to farmers. It is perfectly true that anybody who employs workmen has to bear that risk. He may relay it to an insurance company and ask the company to meet his costs in the matter, but even that costs money, and it must be remembered, in that connection, that the contributions in respect of workman's compensation are in the vicinity of £960,000 per annum, so far as the premiums of insurance companies are concerned. If a person does not insure his workmen, he has to carry the risk himself, and—let us be perfectly clear on this—in so far as he carries the risk himself, every new piece of workmen's compensation legislation which improves the rate of benefit increases that risk. Having regard to the general movement of wages, salaries and price levels since 1934, and particularly since 1939, injured workmen are entitled to the benefit provided by this Bill. We do not gain anything or contribute anything to the general pool by putting our heads in the sand and not realising that, as far as workmen's compensation is concerned, it has to be paid by the person who employs workmen. Asking them to pay this higher rate is a reasonable request, especially having regard to wages, salaries and price movements since 1934. Senator R. M. Burke talked about the risk of malingering in connection with workmen's compensation and, if I did not misunderstand him, made reference to malingering in the building trade.

It was another Senator did so. I did not mention it.

I think it was Senator Denis Burke who referred to malingering in the building trade under the present workmen's compensation code. Senator Hawkins would not make that mistake.

Of course the Senator would not. Everybody knows that a craftsman can get 3/3 per hour for a 44, a 47 or a 48 hour week but, at present, all he can get by way of workmen's compensation if he meets with an accident in the course of his employment is 37/6 weekly. Accordingly, if you take the normal wage, apart from overtime, apart from production bonus, and apart from a man's particular skill, who would want to malinger? Of course nobody does. I am afraid that Senator Denis Burke completely misunderstood the position in that connection. Senator Counihan thought that there should be compulsory insurance. I think there should be, and I congratulate the Senator on his conversion to the collective concept of life.

I always advocated it.

I am very glad to hear that. It is part of the kindness that the Senator always radiates. But I do not think it can be done at present. I do not think you can have the collective concept of life for workmen's compensation, when you have individual insurance companies insuring workmen, not because they want to insure workmen, but because they want to make some profit by doing so, or out of the employer who insures workmen.

I hope before the Senator sees many more winters that we will have a comprehensive social security Bill on this subject. I am glad to have this early indication from the Senator that he will be one of the warmest supporters of the collective concept which will surround such a Bill. I should like to say again, that the simple purpose of this Bill is to step up the rate of compensation from 37/6 to 50/- a week. During the emergency the last Government had at its disposal the Emergency Powers Act under which it was possible to make an Order one night which would have effect the next day. The Emergency Powers Act has since been repealed and has been replaced by the Supplies and Services Act, and, consequently, I have not the easy access for doing that that the Minister for Industry and Commerce previously had, namely to make an Order at night which would become operative next day, nor do I get in the Supplies and Services Act power to do by Order what was previously done by the Emergency Powers Act. I have to go through the cumbersome practice of introducing an amending Bill in the Dáil and to do by means of legislation, with the slothfulness that that involves, what my predecessor in the Department of Industry and Commerce was enabled to do by means of an Order under the Emergency Powers Act. This Bill has one purpose, and one purpose only, to step up compensation from 37/6 to 50/- weekly. I am sure that the whole House will agree with Senator Mrs. Concannon when she said she thought it was time that that was done. Accordingly I bespeak the support of the House for this Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

When will the next stage be taken?

I suggest that we might take the other stages to-day.

May I call the attention of the House to the fact that the Second Stage only is mentioned on the Order Paper? Surely there should be notice given if further stages were to be taken.

I am not pressing to have the remaining stages taken now although I would be very grateful, and injured workmen would be grateful if they were taken. I am prepared to leave the remaining stages over until next week. Senators being human beings like everybody else, I thought they would not wish to meet next week.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is a matter for the House to decide.

This is a Bill and not an Order under the Emergency Powers Act. It is a Bill that it is very difficult to amend or to improve. If Senator Dockrell has an amendment that he wants to move——

I have not. I referred merely to the Order Paper. I object to something being taken that is not dealt with on the Order Paper, unless a genuine case is made for it, when I would not object. What I object to is asking for the remaining stages when there is no mention of that on the Order Paper.

I did not ask for the remaining stages. Next Wednesday or Thursday will suit me.

I am only referring to the position to-day. I merely made a formal protest when it was not on the Order Paper.

If the Second Reading was on the Order Paper and was agreed to as being non-contentious, we are not going to be compelled because of Senator Dockrell's protest to defer further consideration of the Bill, particularly when there is an emergency, and nobody has announced an intention to move amendments. The fact that the Second Stage only appears on the Order Paper should not debar the House from taking all stages now if they wish.

It is not possible for the Clerk to put anything but the Second Stage on the Order Paper. That is the only power he has under the Standing Orders. To take further stages on the same day could only be done by a suspension of Standing Orders by consent. As far as I am concerned we have, probably, been inclined to consent too easily in this respect, and I should like to tell the Minister that we hate to see the present Government following in the steps of their predecessors, by coming in immediately before Christmas with such a Bill as this.

This particular Bill is really in the nature of a small amendment which could be done by Order, though I prefer to see it done by legislation. I think that, before long, the time may come when we shall have to re-cast our Standing Orders under which the Cathaoirleach would have power to decide between Bills which are of a simple character and which would be virtually a resolution approving of something, and Bills of a legislative character. That question is not before us now. I am not going to oppose the taking of the further stages of this Bill now. I can see the Minister's case for this Bill. It has to be passed before Christmas.

May I make a point, in order to ease the mind of Senator Dockrell and to remove suspicion from the minds of other people, that it is not correct to say that the Minister is asking for any further stage of this Bill to-day? The proposal to take the other stages now was made by members of the House for their own convenience. There is nothing more about it. If the Minister were to come in here, as other Ministers did in the past a week before Christmas, and were to ask the House to rush through three or four Bills in one day, I would object, but that is not the position. The Minister is not asking for any further stage to-day.

If some member of the House indicated that he desired to move an amendment to the Bill, then, of course, it would not be proper to take the remaining stages now; but since no such desire has been expressed, it seems to me, looking at this from the point of view of a businessman, that we should give all stages now.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

On several occasions in the past, the House has objected to this order of taking all stages in the one day, and the House did not allow that to be done. Unless the House so decides, all stages cannot be taken to-day.

Having made my protest, I desire now to withdraw my objection. My point was that to take all stages now is going beyond what is on the Order Paper before us. I have not got any amendment to move and, as I say, having made my protest, I withdraw my objection.

I should like to point out to the Senator that I am not asking for all stages of the Bill to-day. His protest is really a protest against the procedure of the House.

Nothing can be done on the point about the Order Paper. Senator Dockrell is not on safe ground in talking about the Order Paper. We can only put this down on the Order Paper and must have power to give further stages if we like. Those who are not here cannot protest. Those who, like Senator Dockrell, are here, can protest. If the Senator cares to protest, to speak further and object, we cannot do this, and will not do it.

I have said that I do not wish to carry my protest any further.

I made the suggestion that we should take the other stages of the Bill. I did not make it for my own convenience. It would be quite convenient for me to come here to-morrow or on next Tuesday or Wednesday. I think we should take this out of the Party question. I have said here over and over again, when I sat on the other side of the House, that Ministers do not belong to Parties for certain purposes: that they are just Ministers.

We, on this side of the House, are prepared to give all stages of the Bill to-day.

Senator Dockrell's protest was not against the taking of the further stages of the Bill, but against the attitude of the front benches of this House on both sides, bossing the back benches.

Agreed: That the remaining stages of the Bill be taken to-day.

Bill passed through Committee without amendment.
Bill reported without amendment.
Question: "That the Bill be received for final consideration," put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

On that question, I should like to say that I accept all the sympathy which the Minister has extended to me in the course of the debate on this Bill, and at the same time to offer him my sympathy. I can quite appreciate that this is not the type of Bill that he would like to present to us, and that there are circumstances over which he probably has as little control as I have. But, having put some questions to the Minister, which he did not answer, I feel that it may not be out of place that we should have some clear indication as to where we are going. I agree with the Minister that if workmen's compensation is to continue on the present basis, it will be impossible to make provision for the type of case I have referred to. The Minister agrees with that point of view. The only way in which provision of that kind can be made is under a national social security scheme. The Minister has not informed the House, or at least if he did, I did not grasp it, whether in the social security scheme or plan, that he proposes to introduce some time in the near future, workmen's compensation will be included. If we are going to have an amalgamation of national health insurance, unemployment insurance and other benefits and are going to leave workmen's compensation to the ordinary insurance companies and outside the scope of that amalgamation scheme, then the position is going to be as it was before.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator is not in order in discussing future legislation.

I understood that on the Fifth Stage, we could only discuss what was in the Bill.

If the Minister is in any way embarrassed by my question——

No. The Senator can have a free for all.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator is not in order in dealing with future legislation.

I again suggest that this Bill is being presented to us as a stop-gap, and that we are going to have the real thing as early as possible when we reassemble after Christmas.

That was not said.

I said "as early as possible". The Dáil is adjourning until the 16th February, and I do not suppose that we shall be meeting until some time after St. Patrick's Day. The Minister, therefore, will have ample time to prepare his social security plan or scheme. We have heard quite a lot about it. The simple question that I am putting to him is this: Of the social security plan that he is going to put before the House, will, or will not, workmen's compensation form part.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I have told the Senator that he is not in order in discussing future legislation.

Senator Hawkins knows quite well that the subject he has raised is not in order, but it gives an opportunity to him to say the last word on this stage of the Bill.

May I say, to reassure Senator Hawkins——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

If the Minister would not mind, I have just ruled the Senator out of order for raising the matter.

I wanted to try and reassure him, but if you rule that I am not in order and he wants to keep on a "cold war", it is all right.

Question put and agreed to.
Ordered: That the Bill be returned to the Dáil.