DÁIL IN COMMITTEE. - UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BILL, 1924.—REPORT STAGE.

I beg to move:—

To add to Section 6, page 3, a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) Section 35 of the Principal Act (which relates to the purposes for which the Minister may make regulations) shall have effect as if there were added to paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) of that section the following:—

"For requiring, on the consideration and examination of any such claims and questions, the attendance of any person whose presence is necessary or desirable for the purpose of giving evidence concerning such claims and questions, and."

This amendment is proposed as an alternative to the one introduced by Deputy Corish when the Bill was in Committee. It is very much more general in its terms, and it will give the Minister power to compel the attendance of any person as a witness concerning evidence as to claims and questions.

I think this amendment meets the case that I have pleaded, for the courts should have power to call employers as well as employees as witnesses. This gives general powers, and I accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

There was another amendment to be considered, but no amendment has been introduced on foot of that. It has been considered. I read again what Deputy Morrissey said in introducing it, and I came to the conclusion that the amendment had been wrongly worded or else that wrong arguments had been used in putting forward the amendment. In so far as the amendment meant what it said I repeat again what I said on the last occasion, and that is that the carrying out of the section is done in accordance with what has been proposed by the amendment. But the arguments used by Deputy Morrissey went further, and urged that men should not be moved from a district where a higher rate of wages prevailed to one where a lower rate prevailed. That seemed to me to enlarge the right to benefit. I do not think that the enlargement of a right to benefit should take place upon a temporary Bill. If there are well-founded complaints, then there is time between this and the going of the Bill into the Seanad for some samples of these complaints being sent to me for consideration, and the matter can be gone into, and an amendment may be accepted in the Seanad. If the second point is what the Deputy has in mind, I do not think that that could be accepted on a merely temporary Bill.

I think the Minister should understand that the complaint which the amendment as originally proposed was intended to remove was that there had been frequent complaints of offers of employment at considerably lower rates—not merely lower rates, but at a difference which was so great that it was an invitation to the employed person to refuse to accept employment in that low wage district. The suspicion is that that practice has been adopted in some districts simply for the purpose of striking a man off the lists. He is invited, in fact, to refuse employment in such a district. Whether I can produce any considerable number of individual cases I cannot promise, but that the practice prevails I am convinced, in view of a considerable number of general complaints that I have heard from time to time. I am sorry that I did not notice that that amendment had not been embodied in this Report stage. I had overlooked the fact that it had been withdrawn, for I thought it had been accepted. I am sorry now that the matter is to be dealt with in the Seanad. I will endeavour to bring specific evidence before the Minister, and I have no doubt I would be able to do so if the legislative programme was not so heavy, and we had time. But unfortunately between one Bill and another we have not time to think about the Bills, let alone examine them and bring instances forward in support of our amendments. The chances of a Research Department are very little when dealing with Bills in this manner. I assure the Minister the complaint which has been spoken of, and which he sought to remedy, is fairly widely held, and it is a grievance which is felt by quite a number of trades and people concerned in the administration of Unemployment Insurance, believing that the administration is weighted against them in that particular.

Deputy Johnson's first line of attack is to stress the point about the speed at which legislation is going through this House. I have before me the fact that time might be required to bring forward complaints, but I have also the very specific statement made by Deputy Johnson on the Third Stage, to the effect: "I assure the Minister that if this Bill had not been brought in when it was, he would have had a request from the Executive of the Trades Union Congress, and from the Cork Workers' Council, to receive a deputation on this specific question. We had a conference to discuss this matter, and I had complaints time and again from many parts of the country, and amongst those complaints this is one of the most insistent."—[Official Report, 18th June, 1924, column 2567.]

Surely these cases are ready and can be supplied to me between this and the going of the Bill to the Seanad.

I will do my best to bring them forward, but when one is here for 12 hours a day it is not so easy to do it.

Question—"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.

I move: "That the provisions of Standing Order 88 as to the giving of notice for the taking of the fifth stage of a Bill be suspended to permit of the Fifth Stage of the Unemployment Insurance Bill, 1924, being taken to-day (Tuesday), 24th June, 1924."

On the question of urgency I point to the fact that the 29th June is the operative date, and this is the 24th of June. I think that reveals the cause for urgency.

I protest against this procedure, and unless the Minister can show me that there is extreme urgency in this particular case I cannot agree. This Bill was introced only a fortnight ago. It has been hurried through its First, Second, and Fourth Stages, and the least that could be done now would be to give Deputies an opportunity of considering the Bill before the last stage is taken. It is a long Bill, and a highly contentious Bill, and I do not think that in regard to this Bill this resolution should be agreed to.

I support the Minister to give him an opportunity of reading the Bill which he says is a long Bill. It consists of twelve short clauses, but in view of the fact that the Minister has not been able to read it—and that is quite obvious—then clearly and fairly I think he has a right to ask, before the Bill passes, that he should have an opportunity of reading and understanding it. Therefore I shall support the Minister if he takes such action as will ensure the postponement of the Bill to a later date.

Question: "That the Standing Order be suspended"—put and declared carried.
Question, "That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.
Ordered that the Seanad be informed accordingly.