UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (No. 2) BILL, 1924.—SECOND STAGE.

In asking the Dáil to agree to give a Second Reading to the Unemployment Insurance (No. 2) Bill, 1924, I feel that I should give some indication of the numbers, in so far as the numbers have anything to do with the problem of unemployment which faces us, and which it is hoped to remove partically in this way. Deputies will remember that the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1924— the first Act—set out certain benefit years. The present period falls within the fourth benefit year. The third benefit year established under that Act came to an end on the 29th October. In the fourth benefit year, which commenced the day afterwards—the 30th October—claims for benefits were received from 46,341 people: that is to say, 46,341 claim have been received since the opening of the fourth benefit year. Not all of these it is expected will be allowed. It is estimated that about 41,000 will pass the requisite tests and that benefit will be allowed, for a varying number of weeks, to 41,000 claimants. An analysis of the claims leads the Department to believe that the amount of weeks' benefit to be enjoyed, as a result of these claims, will work out as follows:—

11,000 will receive from 1 to 36 days' benefit.

5,000 will receive from 37 to 54 days' benefit.

6,000 will receive from 55 to 72 days' benefit.

19,000 will receive from 73 to 96 days' benefit.

When will the fourth benefit year close?

On the 25th March next. The fourth benefit year has a total of 21 weeks, starting on the 30th October, and ending on the 25th March. The maximum amount, under the previous Act, that can be drawn in that period is sixteen weeks' benefit. From the figures I have already given it can be seen that only about 19,000 have a prospect of drawing benefit from 12 weeks to 16 weeks. 32,000 will draw 12 weeks' benefit or less. The normal rate of unemployment in the country—that is, of course, ordinary unemployment—is about seven per cent. of the insurable population. At present unemployment amounts to eighteen per cent. or twenty per cent.

That is, of insurable people?

Yes. That simple statement shows the extent of the problem. Unemployment, which normally amounts to seven per cent., has increased to between eighteen and twenty per cent.—probably, the lower figure is the more accurate one. The first portion of the Bill which has been introduced, and is at present for consideration, makes a certain proposal— that is, to revive whatever benefit may have been exhausted in the benefit year which has passed: that is, in the third benefit year. If that is joined on to the proposals in the previous Act, in which we multiply up and revive again in that third benefit year all contributions previously exhausted, it can be seen that what we are now doing is counting the third benefit year as nonexistent, in so far as that third benefit year exhausted any claim to benefit. That period of time simply lapses, in so far as it operated to do away with the right to benefit.

I have certain other figures here which will show apparent disagreement with the figures I have already given. Under the proposal of Part I. of the present Bill the net result is estimated in this way—that from 1 to 36 days' benefit will accrue to 6,000 claimants— I am giving these figures to the nearest round number—that another 6,000 will be entitled to benefit of from 37 to 54 days; 5,000 will be entitled to benefit of from 55 to 72 days, 33,000 will be entitled to benefit running from over 73 to 96 days. The total, of course, there is 50,000. The total I previously gave was only 41,000. The difference is to be explained in this way: My first figures referred to claims actually received to date for the fourth benefit year; certain people who had exhausted all their right to benefit in the third benefit year, and who knew that and accepted the hard fact, did not make application. Inasmuch as their contribution will be revived, 9,000 will come on in addition to the 41,000 who have already claimed. That is the calculation. It will be seen that under the provisions of Part I. a very considerable number of unemployed insurable people will get benefit for a longer period; that is, 33,000 out of an estimated total of 50,000 will get benefit for between 73 and 96 days.

May I ask the Minister to go back a little and to explain the difference between the 11,000 one-to-36 day claims actually received, and the 6,000 whose claims are likely to be admissible. Is the explanation that in one case the claims are likely to be admissible, but that in the other case the claims have been received but are not likely to be admissible?

That would be only a partial explanation. The balance of the explanation would be that just as the total is swelled from 41,000 to 50,000 by people who had their right to benefit exhausted, so the proportion of days will be somewhat reversed and will be extended by people who get days added on. They move up from one class to another.

With regard to the cost, it is estimated that under the No. 1 Act, the cost of the fourth benefit year will be about £378,000. If the proposal in the present Bill goes through, the cost will be about £550,000, the difference being £177,000. Against that, there are payments coming into the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The net income of the Unemployment Insurance Fund for this period is estimated at about £305,000, so that the proposal in this Bill will mean borrowing.

Could the Minister give us an indication as to what has been the increase of income into the Unemployment Fund within, say, the last six months?

I could not give those figures at the moment. Is the Deputy referring to a statement, which he may have seen lately, of expenditure and income from which it appeared that a certain sum—£20,000— was paid into the fund?

No. I wanted to find out, if possible, whether there has been any great improvement.

Undoubtedly there has been—if that simple answer will satisfy the Deputy. This proposal will involve borrowing to the extent of about a quarter of a million, and the Unemployment Insurance Fund is in debt at the moment over £1,000,000. The fund is in debt to the Central Fund to the extent of about £1,000,000. I said previously, when the Minister for Finance, in introducing his Budget, said that the Central Fund had a creditor in the shape of the Unemployment Insurance Fund to the extent of £778,000, that I estimated that with only normal unemployment and full compliance, that sum could be refunded by the Unemployment Insurance Fund in about four or five years.

This proposal simply means adding on. It is alleged that, by multiplying up these sums and by giving increased benefit, you are coming dangerously near the border line where this fund is no longer on a contributory basis and no longer a real insurance. But I think it is still on a contributory basis and that it is still an insurance proposition. The £778,000 has been increased, since the Minister for Finance spoke, to over £1,000,000. Now, we propose to put on an additional quarter of a million. I agree that it is getting dangerously near the point where it can be said that the contributory and insurance basis has disappeared, but I think it can be maintained, with justice, that we have not passed that point. That is the effect, in numbers and in cost, to the State, of the proposal under the Part I. of the Bill.

The third section of the Bill contains what is rather a complete departure from the principle of Unemployment Insurance. It is proposed to put in benefit certain ex-National Army men, who had not previously drawn any benefit from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, not being entitled to any benefit by reason of the fact that before entering the service they had not been in an insurable occupation and had not complied with the minimum requirements with regard to stamps, carried on under the 1924 Act. It is now proposed that ex-National Army men, who had not previously been in insurable occupation and who had not previously drawn any benefit, should be put in benefit, so as to entitle them to a maximum of fourteen weeks. The benefit year we are in consists of twenty-one weeks. A certain portion of that year has elapsed and a calculation will show that, if payment under the Bill can commence somewhere about the end of this month, National Army soldiers, who have not previously received any unemployment money, may get this money for every week from the end of the month on to the end of the fourth benefit year—about the end of March. It is felt that this proposition is a proper one although it gets away from the insurance principle. The State has been brought to its present position through the efforts of these men——

Are the army men to be blamed for the State being in its present position?

I was asked the other day who was "Minister for Sarcasm." The answer is now supplied. It is felt that some benefit should be given to these men, inasmuch as it has not been possible to provide for them— as it was thought it would have been— by giving them preference when relief works, such as housing undertakings and road repairs, were entered upon. It has not been found possible to provide for these men in that way, and a recognition of that fact has forced the conclusion that some provision of that sort must be made for them.

There is a peculiar circumstance in connection with the demobilised men. About 30,000 were demobilised. Of these, 15,000 had previously such insurable occupation as would have entitled them to benefit under the previous Acts. Of the 15,000, at the most only 10,000 claims were registered. If the same proportion holds good of the remaining 15,000, ten thousand may fall due for unemployment benefit under Section 3 of the Bill. It is on that that we base our calculation. We are estimating that an extra one thousand may fall due—that 11,000, or a little more, may apply for benefit under this provision. If they apply and get benefit over the maximum period, it is estimated that the cost will be about £135,000. That is the effect, in cost, of the main provisions of the Bill, and that gives some idea of the numbers that have to be dealt with. A few points were raised when I asked leave to introduce this Bill. One was that some statement should be made with regard to the position of those resident in the Six Counties, particularly ex-Army men. Another question was in connection with the reciprocal arrangements between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Saorstát. That question can be gone into, but I would ask the Deputies who raised the point to meet me by getting publicity for what has been done—which I personally desire—in another way. That question can be discussed apart from this Bill. It could be discussed on a motion or on the adjournment, and I would welcome a chance of making a statement showing the efforts that have been made and the difficulties in the way of what are termed "reciprocal arrangements."

A question was asked as to what attempt had been made and what success there had been in connection with the starting of works. I said previously, in a debate on unemployment, that any extension of this Act would have to be looked at in conjunction with relief schemes. The fact that the extension is now before you in this Bill means, to a certain extent, that relief schemes could not be started sufficiently early. There are certain schemes and there has been certain provision to keep work going. May I just refer to one or two things in Dublin, as Dublin has been mentioned, and as the bulk of the unemployed are in Dublin. The figure for Dublin is about 14,700. On a motion, one evening, the question of the Port and Docks Board's application and the possibility of securing work through the Port and Docks Board were discussed. I cannot say that the work has yet been started, but I can definitely say that guarantees and assurances have been given to the representative of the Port and Docks Board to warrant work being at least prepared, and it is hoped that a start will be made quite soon.

Is the Minister in a position to say, from information received, how soon that may be?

I could apply for that information, or the Deputy could apply for it, to other people. The question of housing was also dealt with in a question and also by a deputation, and there was a plea for a very large extension of such a scheme as the Marino scheme. I expect that certain advertisements will appear any of these days showing that at least development of the site has been taken in hands. There are then such other things as the reconstruction of the General Post Office, which is being proceeded with, and the question of clearing the site of and rebuilding the Four Courts; also the clearing of the site at the Customs House. These will be put in hands at once.

O'Connell Street has been often referred to, and we have been urged to put pressure upon people who own destroyed property there so as to speed up rebuilding. I feel a considerable sense of disappointment and irritation over O'Connell Street. It has been found absolutely impossible to get any real progress made with the rebuilding of O'Connell Street. There are a great many considerations involved, and attempts have been made to meet all the difficulties that were raised; attempts have been made to smooth the way for the owners. I must confess failure definitely with regard to O'Connell Street. I have been in violent collision with the O'Connell Street proposition for some months past, and I must say it does not seem to be possible to get work started there. Certainly, there is not such a prospect that I could make any statement with regard to it.

Various suggestions have been made to the Government with regard to meeting distress in the winter, and a considerable number of those suggestions will be dealt with to-morrow when the £250,000 estimate is under consideration. That is intended to meet distress in the rural areas, and particularly in the congested districts; but it is not confined to the congested districts. Further than that, there were two points raised. There was the question of fuel, which will not come in directly under the £250,000 grant which is being introduced to-morrow. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture will detail to-morrow what is being done in that regard. One other small item, urged with great vehemence as being a considerable benefit, was that certain money should be set aside for some sort of a rough meal for school children in certain districts in the country. At the moment search is being made to see if a certain Vote can bear the £10,000 or £12,000 that would be required for the purpose.

The thing has not been worked out in a detailed way; in fact, details are rather to be avoided. It is not desired to have anything that would add to the cost by way of supervision. It would be much better if the thing could be done in quite a simple manner. I would like to have the Unemployment Insurance Act—the estimated cost of it is £370,000—considered in conjunction with those other sums; the £250,000 grant, details of which will be given to-morrow; the sum of £50,000 left over from the old Vote which I had specially asked to have set aside in preparation for the winter; the sum of £10,000 or £12,000 which may be secured otherwise for the purpose of those meals for school children; and finally £100,000 to be distributed through the Local Loans Fund. The items on which that can be expended are already well known, particularly permanent improvement to land and drainage, drainage being one of those items. In addition to that there are other items. Fuel alone might cost some £25,000. The whole thing would come roughly to £800,000.

In addition to all that there is still unexpended, unallocated, and in some cases unasked monies under the Housing Act, and under the Roads Grant. It is estimated there is at least £135,000 not yet called for under the Housing Act. There is something approaching half-a-million in connection with roads.

Not asked for?

Not expended in that case. There are certain counties concerned, if the Deputy will insist, in which the money is not completely refused. It is not that £500,000 is being withheld from the public and is being closed down.

It is all right, so long as I am corrected.

Wexford was refused.

There are altogether £370,000 under this scheme, £250,000 to be voted to-morrow, £50,000 unexpended out of the old £250,000 grant, and there are even other sums still to be expended that have been already voted. All these form a contribution towards the relief of distress. There may be other points which will be brought out in the debate. I would ask Deputies to leave the question of reciprocity and reciprocal arrangements over for another occasion and leave the ground clear for discussion on this particular Bill.

I think the Minister is to be commended for introducing this Bill; it certainly will be welcome amongst the unemployed in the country. The Minister is to be commended all the more in what he has said with regard to works of reconstruction, because what we really want is that the Government would make a very earnest, determined effort to start works of reconstruction and, as far as possible, endeavour to relieve the drain there is upon the Unemployment Fund. The Minister spoke of large sums which have been made available for the relief of unemployment. It is one thing to have large sums available, but it is another thing to see them expended.

I wish the Minister could give us some indication of what amount of the one and a-quarter millions given for road construction over twelve months ago remains unexpended at the present moment. Could he tell us of his own knowledge, or ascertain from the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, what number of public bodies used the money provided for the relief of unemployment through the means of road reconstruction, for the relief of the rates? As far as I can recollect, when that money was being made available, and was being allocated, a circular was sent out from the Local Government Department intimating that it was desired that the councils would not reduce their normal estimate for road expenditure.

I will give one case as an illustration. One county council was allocated £23,000, £2,500 of which was earmarked for the purchase of machinery, which machinery was purchased outside this country. At the first meeting of that council, it was proposed and unanimously carried, that the estimate submitted by the county surveyor for road maintenance should be reduced by £12,000. The estimate was reduced exactly by one-third.

The arguments which were adduced by the members of the county council supporting this motion were, that even after the £12,000 was taken off the estimate, they would still have more money to be spent on the roads than they had the previous year, because they were getting £23,000 out of the grant from the Local Government Department. At a subsequent meeting this matter was taken up, and fought, with the result that the amount taken off the estimate was only £6,000. But they did take that £6,000 off the estimate. So that in that case, instead of the money which was given by way of grants for relief of unemployment and for reconstruction of the roads being used for that purpose, it was used in reality for the relief of the rates.

Therefore, I say, it is one matter to say that so much money has been allocated or made available for the relief of unemployment. It is quite another matter when you come to see how much of this has been actually expended. I might also mention the amounts which have been paid in compensation, and I would like to ask the Minister here now a question on that particular point, and that is: whether the Government is prepared to come here and ask for the necessary powers to compel people who have been paid compensation for the destruction of their property to rebuild that property or else to deprive them of compensation? That is a matter that affects practically every district in the country. We have had houses destroyed and other buildings destroyed in all parts of this country. and we have had people paid compensation, and there is no attempt whatsoever to rebuild those houses in very many cases. Cork and Dublin are not the only two places.

The same thing applies in every country town, and on that matter I would like to ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or the Minister for Finance, whether it is correct to say that in the case of these people who have not started rebuilding their premises interest at the rate of five per cent. is accumulating on the amount awarded them? With regard to the Bill which has been introduced, I think the Minister is to be commended, though, at the same time, I do not think the Bill goes far enough. Because there will be, as the Minister will admit, thousands of people who will not benefit at all under the Bill, people who did not benefit with, say, the exception of the ex-National Army men, under the last Act. Such people will not benefit under this Bill. I certainly think that the section which deals with the ex-National Army men is one that is long overdue. It is a very pitiful spectacle to see the condition these men are in. I think it is a disgrace to the people of this country, and to the nation as a whole, to see ex-National Army men outside in the streets, and put in the position of beggars, actually outside the gates of the approach to Leinster House, collecting money in tin-cans to keep ex-National Army men from, as they themselves say, starvation. For that reason I am glad that the Minister has introduced this Bill.

I want to put to the Minister the necessity there is for forcing compliance with regard to this unemployment insurance. I want to put it to the Minister that if compliance were enforced in the proper way in this country, it would not be necessary to borrow the £250,000 that he speaks about now. I do not think it would. There is not the compliance that there should be. I should say it would not be greater than fifty or sixty per cent. The percentage with regard to the Unemployment Insurance Act may be greater than it is in regard to National Health Insurance. Fortunately for the matter of compliance the Unemployment Insurance does not extend to the agricultural districts, like the National Health Insurance. That is a matter in which I would like to see the Minister looking for stronger powers, especially in view of the state of unemployment in this country. The employers whose business is going on, and the workers who are lucky enough to be employed should be compelled to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance.

I say lucky enough in view of the extraordinary situation, and the extreme depression in employment at present. I, for one, would be prepared, anyway, to support the Minister in asking for fairly substantial powers in that respect. I might say, so far as I am concerned, I welcome this Bill and I am sure it will be welcomed in the country, and it will bring relief and consolation to many hundreds of thousands of people who are in a very bad way, and who certainly have, or up to this had, a very bad outlook facing them at Christmas, with practically nothing—being cut off from the unemployment fund and everything else.

I suppose it might be considered my function in the Dáil to criticise such a large expenditure of money as is outlined in connection with this Bill in a non-productive way. I am not going to take up any such position, because I recognise as well as any member of the Dáil that there is dire necessity for some measure of relief in connection with such a large number of people who are at the present moment destitute. I also commend the Minister for tackling this thing, because otherwise, looked at in a narrow and parsimonious spirit, I am afraid the result would have been disastrous. On the other hand the expenditure of this large sum of money must set us all thinking as to where the position is leading us. Dublin, I think, has been mentioned as the centre of the largest number of unemployed. Dublin under normal conditions is a city which, in the past, has never benefited by any large prosperity, in the way of what is known in trade as boom periods. But I think, on the other hand, Dublin has not suffered to the same extent in depressed times, from unemployment and from want of work that industrial centres have. To-day we find that in Dublin the situation is, I should think, as far as unemployment is concerned, as bad in proportion to the number of the population as in any other part of, what I may call, the three Kingdoms.

Now, there is no use in imagining that the payment of these sums in relief or even that relief works are going to be anything more than a palliative, and very temporary at that. What we want to get at is, I think, the root of the trouble, and what is the cause of the large amount of unemployment at the present time. Of course it may be said that trade depression is worldwide. That is so. But when you look at the local situation, and find the amount of reconstructive work that can be gone on with, and find a disinclination on the part of anybody to expend money in this direction, with, at all events few exceptions, one must realise that the whole confidence of the investors has suffered a very severe shock, and that the only real means by which trade will be restored is in the establishment of a greater and wider spirit of confidence than at present obtains.

Trade, of course, rests on confidence and confidence creates credit. Credit to-day is strangled in the country, because amongst the general trading community the story is the difficulty that they find in getting sufficient accommodation to carry on their trade, not to speak of any extension or development. I say that the spirit of confidence has been undermined, largely, of course, by the events of the last few years, and I think also—and I say this without any wish to criticise Labour in any way—that that confidence has suffered from the disturbed conditions under which trade has been carried on for some time past. If Labour, and if the unemployed would recognise that they also could contribute to the improvement in the conditions that operate, either to the detriment or to the advantage of trade, it would assist materially. It is not sufficient for them to say that employers of the State are not looking at the position sympathetically, because in the case of the Government they are naturally unwilling to expend large sums of the taxpayers' money if it can be avoided, and the employers will not expend money and assist industry to the extent they might because of the want of confidence in the future. It is not sufficient for the unemployed to throw all the blame on the Government, or on the employers. It would be well for them if they would take to heart the fact that they themselves have something to do with the position we find ourselves in to-day. It would be well if they would examine their side of the responsibility without throwing, or attempting to throw, all the responsibility on other people. While I agree with this measure as being necessary— without going into the details which will be considered in Committee—I say again that this cannot get us very far.

Expenditure on the roads is good if the money is well spent. It is an expenditure which prepares the way for the development of trade and industry. Deputy Morrissey says that the county councils have grabbed some of the money granted by the Government and cut down the road expenditure. Well, to-day is not the time to cut down the expenditure on the roads, but I think I could equally say to-day is not the time for wasteful expenditure on the roads. This is a very large sum of money to expend on the roads, and it is to the interests of every workman, earning wages on the road, to see that he gives sufficient and good value for the money expended. All this money which is being raised on loan has got to be paid by the country. Every one of us have to pay our share. I would beg the House in general to remember that every individual will have to contribute his quota to the repayment of that money. There again is a very important aspect of the case. If it is not felt by the people who are giving that money, that that money is secure and will be recoverable, in due course, that in itself is going to undermine the confidence of investors and the people generally in the continuity and the prosperity of the Government. I have, perhaps, said more than I should on the matter, but I do feel that the time has arrived when we should examine the reasons for the necessity of this Bill at all and examine them closely and with no idea of throwing blame on other people, but with the idea of seeing how far we, collectively and individually, can try to remedy the very appalling state of affairs that one sees in existence to-day. If we can do anything in that direction, the money that is provided will not be ill spent.

The Minister referred to the rebuilding of O'Connell Street. The House must realise that that is exactly one of the cases in point. The sites there are only suitable for every expensive buildings which it would not pay anybody to erect unless they could look forward to a very large measure of trade in these buildings. I know myself that in that district there is a hesitancy to undertake the obligation of building these very expensive houses at present. At the same time, I think that all these things would be got over by the growth of a greater confidence. I think it would be amazing to find how quickly all these things and the situation generally would develop in an improved atmosphere.

I would also like to commend and congratulate the Minister on, might I say, the sense of humanity that prompted him to bring in this Bill. But like Deputy Morrissey, I think he might have gone a little further. What this Bill really does, I understand, is to place the insured contributors in the same position for the fourth benefit year as they occupied in the third benefit year. Under those provisions, or conditions, a large number of decent unemployed men who are anxious for work will still be without benefit, and I do think that as a temporary expedient, or temporary measure, in this fourth benefit year, the Minister might have introduced what people are pleased to call the dole system, that he should have endeavoured to persuade the Government to pay a certain number of weeks' benefit, say a maximum of ten weeks, during the period of this very heavy winter. I think he will agree with me that thousands of men are unemployed who were in insurable occupations from 1912, when the Unemployment Insurance Act came into operation, until 1920, when the slump came. These men became unemployed somewhere in the middle of 1920, and by reason of the operations of the first Act of this year many of them are unable to receive unemployment benefit. I do think that the Minister will agree that that is a great hardship.

Deputy Hewat welcomes this Bill. There is a saying in this country that some people will cut your head off and then give you a plaster. Deputy Hewat gave the plaster first, and then started to cut off the head. He said he welcomed the Bill, saw that there was a necessity for it, and then in an indirect way started an attack on Labour. Now, I am one of those who believe that when a man is employed he should give the best to his employer, and that at present it ought to be the desire of every workingman to co-operate with every other interest, with a view to getting the country back to normal as quickly as possible, and I rather think that the time has arrived when we should call a spade a spade. During the recent elections I was reading some of the speeches made——

Foolish man!

Perhaps I was foolish —by some of the opponents of the Government. They spoke of the unemployment that prevailed and they condemned the Government for it. I think it is only right for people other than the Government Party, to say in this House that these people made the greatest contribution of any party of the State to unemployment during the past four years, and I think the workers who are supporting them are foolish not to have recognised that by now and treat them accordingly. We all admit that the country is in a bad state economically, but still the fact of admitting that does not fill the stomachs of the unfortunate unemployed who are on the verge of starvation. As I said, I congratulate the Minister on bringing forward this new Bill, which is very necessary, but I would ask him to do a little more, and that is to endeavour even to vary the Bill a little further for this benefit year to bring in men who are genuinely unemployed and seeking work, who have been insured under the Unemployment Act from 1912 to 1920, and who have not had sufficient stamps to get any benefit during the third benefit year, not to talk of the fourth benefit year.

In connection with the clause which brings into benefit ex-members of the National Army, I should say that during the Second Reading of the last Bill I advocated that these men should be brought in. I think as Deputy Morrissey said, that it was a disgrace to see men who had served their country well going round the streets of Dublin with tins collecting money in order to prevent themselves from being hungry. I am wondering how the Minister proposes to allow stamps to these people, the number of stamps he will allow, and what will be the difference between ex-members of the National Army who are insured already and those who are not insured at all. Are the ex-members of the National Army who were in an insured occupation prior to joining the Army to stop in the same category as they were in during the third benefit year, or will all ex-members of the National Army be treated under the same head? I also wish to say that I welcome the proposal of the Minister for Finance to move for an extra Vote for distress. Everybody agrees that it is badly needed, and I do hope that the agricultural labourers will be attended to, because really there is more unemployment in agricultural areas than people know of. I think it is necessary that this Vote should be passed, and I also congratulate the Minister for Finance.

Those of us who are not intimately associated with what I will call the manufacturing industry and manufacturing trades of this country are wondering how it is that out of an insurable population of about 275,000 people there should be such an enormous number on the dole. That brings you to reflect on the whole manufacturing problem of the country, and you have to reflect as to why or wherefore so many are idle while there is work to be done. I think that Deputy Hewat indicated the reasons pretty well, and without being antagonistic towards Labour, if I were to direct attention to the fact that wages in the Saorstát are greater than wages in any part of Northern Ireland or Great Britain, I think that that alone would indicate to a large extent why we have so many unemployed. I will not go into that question of Labour except to mention that fact, because I know the policy of the Labour Party—and probably they are right—is to get for their men the best possible wage. But the result from that is that industries which otherwise would be flourishing are being kept back. The saying: "The higher the wages, the greater the purchasing power," does not operate in the way that Labour people think. Unfortunately, too much of the wages is spent in a way which does not reproduce, and while the farmers would be very glad to see high wages spent on bread, butter, beef, and such things, they see that the wages are not being spent on these articles, and that of what is being spent, the farmers get very little.

I am going to grumble with the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I do not object to the advancing of this £378,000; it is not the advance, but the fact that it is overloading the Fund. It is to be repaid from the Unemployment Fund whenever that Fund is able to repay it. But would it not have been a better policy that we should ask the employers of these men and the men themselves who are employed, to contribute double towards the support of their destitute brethren? Ten pence a week out of £3 or £4 is a very small contribution, and I consider that the Fund would be kept infinitely more prosperous while we are in such bad straits, by asking those who are employed to contribute double the present amount.

I believe the workers themselves would agree. I wish to refer to what Deputy Morrissey said about the ratepayers filching some of this Unemployment Fund, and incidentally I want to say that that £1,000,000 which has been granted for the roads is not taxable revenue. It is money paid by the ratepayers on two special levies under the Malicious Injuries Act—6d. for two years. That produced something like £600,000, and the other £400,000 comes from the Motor Taxes. What is the evidence that the ratepayers are filching this money? A surveyor estimated a certain amount, and the county council reduced it by £12,000. A subsequent meeting was held and it was reduced by £6,000. I ask Deputy Morrissey if he has ever known a council where a surveyor's estimate was passed without any reduction?

I may say in explanation that the estimate furnished by the county surveyor this year in the place I spoke of was a similar estimate to last year, and the reason put forward by the county council for reducing it was because £23,000 had been given out of the grant.

The fact that it was only reduced by £6,000 shows that the work——

After protest.

Is not a surveyor's estimate nearly always reduced? Is it not the regular thing for one side to put up as much as it can? Have we not tried to reduce the estimates of Ministers? That is the proper business way to do it.

When the farmers have the majority they reduce it.

Because they have to pay.

I am afraid that if I were to go on much longer I would cause some resentment, and I am not in the humour for anything like that. If the Minister had readjusted the amount which the employers and the workers pay, the general taxpayers would not be asked to advance to 287,000 people, one and a quarter million pounds.

I also welcome this Bill. As regards the National Army, I know a good many agricultural labourers who joined and who were not entitled to unemployment benefit when they came out. The fact that these men joined the Army in dangerous times should entitle them to get that benefit.

took the Chair at this stage.

The cards of the men would not be stamped unless in civil life they belonged to an insurable occupation. Some people have suggested that this money should be given as a subsidy to start or develop some industry, instead of being given as a dole. I do not know whether that could be done or not. If it were possible, it would be a good way out of the difficulty, because the men would be doing some work for the money they get. Other people say that unemployment benefit has a demoralising effect on the workers. I know from experience that during the last two or three years it was an absolute necessity and that many people would be in a bad way if it were not for it.

I think that agricultural labourers should also be included in this unemployment scheme. We all hope that it will not be long in operation, and that industries will be opened up which will relieve the existing unemployment. There are many men employed under the Government who come under the heading of agricultural labourers, and who are not entitled to unemployment benefit. In this matter I think the Government should set a good example and that every man in Government employment should be entitled to come under the scheme. It is very hard to see men of the agricultural class walking around the country idle because their employers, especially during the past year, have had quite enough to do to look after themselves. I think I am only doing my duty in reminding Ministers that agricultural labourers should be included in this scheme, especially those who are in the employment of the Government, and that it should be made retrospective in that respect.

Like other Deputies, I welcome the Bill. I think the Minister deserves and will receive the congratulation of workers generally on bringing it in. I am personally interested in Section 3, which concerns ex-service men. It is not a compliment to those men to allow them to draw unemployment benefit. I would like the Minister to say why it is that agricultural labourers are not entitled to any benefits under this Bill, any more than under previous Acts. There are hundreds of married men with large families in the country who have worked all their lives with farmers, and in winter time especially there is no work for these men.

For the past two or three years probably they have not worked more than four or five months in the year. That is not really the fault of the farmers. There is no market for agricultural produce, and the farmers say they cannot afford to pay the wages, although agricultural wages have been reduced. The children of the agricultural labourer are of as much value to the State as any other children and should be looked after. I do not see why the labourers who toil on the land should be denied the same privileges and benefits as those who work in factories. We are told that 75 per cent. of the nation's wealth comes from the land. Yet, we cannot see our way through the means of any Act to try and keep the wolf from the door of those people who work on the land.

I would ask the Minister, before the Committee Stage, to have an amendment inserted, so that agricultural labourers will be entitled to some benefits to tide them over the hard time we are passing through. I can assure the Minister and the Dáil that they are at present in a most lamentable condition. Their children are hungry and badly clad. If they are to be looked upon as of any use to the State their welfare should appeal to the Minister as much as those who are engaged in less useful work. I would also like that some of this money would be utilised in developing industries. In towns there are schemes that could be brought forward that would prove very beneficial. I know that there is a Housing Act, but people cannot be got to take advantage of that. In the rural districts where there are thousands of acres of turbary, I think they could be utilised and that any money spent on them would repay the outlay. I know that a gentleman came to this country and started a peat factory. He also made tar, which was used on the roads of Westmeath. Employment was given in that factory in Offaly to two or three hundred people. At the time, unfortunately, certain people were so anxious to destroy the nation that they burned the factory.

I believe that if money was again invested in developing the turbary lands and peat works, it would be the means of giving a good deal of employment. The majority of the workers do not want money for nothing. They are anxious for employment at a decent wage. A pound or 15/- weekly is very little on which to support a family. I believe that a man who gets £1 a week from the Labour Exchange would prefer to work if he could earn £2. Accordingly I hope that the Minister will consider the question of including the agricultural labourer in this Bill. I would like Deputy Wilson to know that the £378,000 does not come altogether from the farmers' pockets. If Deputy Wilson is anxious that the contribution the workers pay should be doubled, I wonder will he advocate the insurance of agricultural labourers? Is he prepared to advise the people who sent him to the Dáil to pay 1/10 weekly for each employee so that they may be entitled to the benefits of the Bill? If he does, he will be doing a patriotic act.

Like my colleagues, I desire cordially to congratulate the Minister on bringing forward this Bill. At the same time, I have a certain amount of sympathy with Deputy Lyons' advocacy of the cause of the agricultural labourer. It appears to me that, when legislation of any particular kind for the relief of unemployment is brought forward and passed in the Dáil, the agricultural labourer is always overlooked. The agricultural labourer appears to be unworthy of any Governmental consideration. There may be a good deal of talk about hardships and sufferings in the cities and urban areas, and undoubtedly hardships do exist, but we scarcely ever find relief being provided for those who are suffering in the rural districts. Even Deputy Wilson will admit that the agricultural labourer is suffering as much from unemployment as workers who are in insured occupations. I hope the Minister will see his way to insert some clause in the Bill that will meet the requirements of unemployed agricultural workers. Even if it was only temporary relief it would meet the destitution that exists amongst that class, especially now at the approach of Christmas. The welfare of the agricultural worker should, I think, be of as much concern to the Ministry as that of any other class of worker. That has not been so up to the present.

Before this Bill passes, I hope the Minister will place the agricultural worker in the same position as he is placing ex-National Army men who were not previously employed in insured occupations. At the same time, I would like to say that I appreciate the Minister's attempt to meet the serious situation that exists, by placing demobilised Army men who are unemployed in a position to benefit by the Bill. I am glad the Minister has thought it well to provide benefits for men who gave such noble and valuable services to the country. While appreciating that, there is nothing in my appreciation that makes me believe that the system of unemployment benefit, or the dole as it has been referred to in the Dáil, is the very best thing possible for this country.

I believed that the Government would seriously consider the well-being of the country, that they would, even during the life of the present Dáil, have considered seriously some means of developing the industrial resources of the country. There have been no attempts in that direction. Say, for instance, in agriculture, if the Ministry seriously considered the development of that great industry they should surely have given consideration far graver than that which they have given to the development of the flax industry. I asked a question the other day of the Minister for Agriculture, and as a result of the fact that, as I took it, he had to acquaint the Minister for Finance, he could not answer it with the usual notice. The reply to the question was put back for four days, and when he did reply, he did not reply to the question as put down. He dealt with the scutching of flax, but he made no reference in his reply to the weaving or spinning industry in so far as the flax industry is concerned, and it showed me how little care has been given to this industry, particularly as the climate of the Saorstát is most suitable for that industry, and if it were developed and more manufacturing mills were opened, more employment would be the result. There would be employment for every man who is unemployed, to a very large extent, unless his hands, according to his own way of thinking, were too fine to be engaged on such rough work. That is one industry that must be developed and there is every room for its development.

Only to-day I have been told that owing to the fact that there is only one mill manufacturing the product of flax in the Saorstát—I refer to the mill in Cork—the flax growers have to find a market for their product in Northern Ireland. I think that that is a serious situation, and if the Government would seek out some means whereby to develop the industry here, and give the people who are prepared to grow flax a market for it, there would be no necessity for transferring the flax produced here to Northern Ireland for manufacture. There are many other things which the Government should attempt to do. They should attempt, for instance, to see that Irish building materials are used within the Saorstát for reconstruction and building purposes, instead of allowing the foreigner to have first preference over the home producer. I put up a case to the Ministry of Finance some time ago about a quarry out of which building material has been got for a great number of years, and while the reply of the Minister did not say that he was not prepared to give it sympathetic consideration, some time has passed, and nothing definite or semi-definite has since been done in that direction.

I am afraid that the Deputy is travelling very far outside the scope of the Bill.

I do not think that I am. I am touching on matters relating to the relief of unemployment. I say that for everything in the nature of an industry in this country there should be some Ministerial concern, so that by its development the large number of unemployed could be put into some constructive occupation. We on the Labour Benches do not, and never did, stand for the dole.

We believe that the workers who are unemployed to-day would prefer to be working and doing some constructive work instead of having to go to the Labour Exchanges and draw the dole. As the position stands, however, they cannot help it, and they have to get there to get some little means of subsistence. I am not as enthusiastic as some Deputies are for this Bill. I do not believe that this Bill is going to be of very great good in any direction of relieving unemployment. I do not believe that the attempt of the Minister to relieve unemployment will have any great effect. Take the sum of money mentioned. What does it mean? I do not believe that it means to the mass of the unemployed anything like 30/- each. It does not. Then we have men who are out of employment for practically six to seven months, the men who have been mentioned by Deputy Lyons, like the agricultural workers for whom no provision is made and who cannot get home help. The Minister for Local Government comes in there, for if a man is able-bodied he cannot get home help, and, if the board of health gives it, it is liable to surcharge, and that surcharge would be forced on the Minister for Local Government by the representatives of the ratepaying community who, in this Dáil, we are led to believe, consist of nobody outside the farmers. Serious consideration must be given to this question of tackling unemployment in agricultural areas.

The road grant and similar measures are not of much use in relieving distress. There is a stretch of road, say, in one area passing from Dublin to a point in another county. Here employment is given to probably two hundred to three hundred men. We have a stretch of country extending for about eighteen miles right and left where there is no relief given, and where the unfortunate workers must remain in starvation. I do not think that that is a good system, and I do not think that that is a proper way of dealing with the problem. It has been suggested by some Deputy here that the Minister should consider the advisability of giving grants for the reconstruction or repair of the second and third class roads. I think, if the Ministry believe in tackling the situation as they find it, that that is one of the things they must first do, that is, to give immediate relief. While, however, they are doing that, they should be considering some scheme that will put an end to unemployment instead of perpetuating it. They should develop the industrial resources of the country so as to put every man willing to work in a constructive occupation in order that he may by his services develop the country to that standard to which it should be developed.

I am sorry I cannot agree with the other Deputies in showering congratulations on the Minister over this Bill. It falls short of my expectations. We have about 90,000 unemployed. The Minister has introduced a Bill to give relief to about fifty thousand, of whom eleven thousand, he states, may receive one day's pay. No provision is made for about forty thousand of the rural workers who are unemployed. I realise that the Minister may have had a difficult job in convincing the representatives of the Chamber of Commerce in the Finance Department to agree to even this measure, because the Finance Department is controlled by the Chamber of Commerce in Dublin. This Bill is framed to give those who may be fortunate enough to have stamps to credit 15s. a week. I hold, and in this I disagree with other Labour Deputies, that at least 60s. a week should be given to every unemployed man who is willing to work, and who cannot secure work, and 5s. for every child under sixteen years of age.

Deputy Hewat and, I think, a Labour Deputy, suggested that Labour should give of its best. We have no proof that Labour has not always given of its best. Why should everything be expected of the worker? Do the employers give of their best? Have the Government made any effort to stop the profiteering that is going on wholesale throughout the country? No, because on the Government Benches there are large shopkeepers, publicans and others, with the result that the Government will not agree to the profiteering scandal being stopped. Then we have Deputy Hewat making the suggestion that the workers and the unemployed should contribute their share. They have contributed their share; but up to the present we have had no share contributed to the welfare of the State or the unemployed from the employers' side. I suggested to the Minister last week that I would take certain action here in regard to other Bills if a satisfactory measure was not introduced for the relief of the unemployed. To my mind, this Bill does not solve the unemployment problem, no matter what Deputies may state to the contrary. If this is the only remedy the Government have, I say to the workers and to the unemployed: "Our place is elsewhere, and not in the Dáil." Other measures will have to be taken.

There is a serious crisis, and there is no use in deceiving the unemployed and the workers by telling them that we will be able to secure certain relief. When schemes, no matter how small, are put up to the different Departments, they are condemned, and refused sanction by the Finance Department. I agree with other Deputies who have appealed for an extension of this Bill to the rural workers. I suggest to the Minister that the Bill is bad, and I ask him to improve it a little, at least so as to extend its benefit to the rural worker who is unemployed owing to the bad harvest and other things, until relief schemes can be started. It is not too much to ask that. These unemployed rural workers are unable to get the dole, and they are refused home help. What will become of them? Can Deputies who represent rural areas be expected to mislead them by promising that we are going to secure redress of their grievances, when we are unable to do so?

I do not agree with others on the Labour Benches who think that we can congratulate the Minister on this Bill. I recognise that he has had a difficult job in persuading the Government, or their representatives, to agree to this. But unless some protest is made, or some action taken, they will not realise how serious this problem is. I say that we would be traitors to go back to the rural areas where there are unemployed, hungry men appealing for assistance, and promise them that this Bill is going to give them relief. I will not do it, and probably I will have others on these Benches who will take a certain course here to try and convert members on the Government Benches who fail to realise their responsibilities. We tell the Minister that this measure will not solve the problem, and something will have to be done other than offering 15/- a week to those who may be fortunate enough to have sufficient stamps, while no provision is made for the rural workers or the unfortunate man who is in the position of being unemployed through no fault of his own, and has no stamps to get anything. I could not agree to accept this Bill, or to congratulate the Minister on introducing it.

I confess that Deputy Everett is nearer to my view in regard to the reception that should be given to this Bill than some of the other speakers. Perhaps we should commiserate with the Minister who finds himself in a position to be obliged to introduce this kind of Bill, rather than to congratulate him upon having done it. I was not enthusiastic, as you will remember, over the last Bill. I realised that it was better than nothing towards relieving some of the hardships, but by no means did it meet the requirements, and I cannot be any more enthusiastic about this Bill, inasmuch as it only pretends to place the unemployed persons, outside ex-service men, in the position they were at the beginning of the last benefit year.

I am afraid it is a case of "To them that hath, much shall be given; to them that hath, not, shall be taken away even that which they hath." We are still dealing only with persons who have been fortunate enough to be insured. While it is important that those people should be relieved from starvation, and even though we may save 50,000 men and their families by the operations of this Bill, there are the others—I do not know how many thousands—who have come into manhood since the year 1920, and who are not going to benefit a farthing by the operation of this Bill. They have been without assistance, and they will continue to be without assistance. That is an effect that will be detrimental, I think, to the general social stability in more ways than one.

Young men who have come into insurable age since 1920 and cannot get employment, who can only live upon what they beg, borrow or steal, are much more likely to steal them to beg or to borrow, and the effect of that choice being thrust upon men must be a very evil one on the State. The Minister has insisted, both in the last Bill and this, that he wants to retain the principle of insurance. I, too, would like to have that principle maintained if we were facing a situation which could be covered by insurance. The whole insurance system contemplates a normal risk or something not very much removed from normality. That is not going to be covered by insurance for a long time. The Minister, notwithstanding his desire to remain within the bounds of the insurance system, has been obliged to depart from that system as he confesses in respect to the ex-soldiers, and, notwithstanding the fact that ex-army men may not have been insured, he is bringing them into insurance. I welcome that. I think it is essential and necessary.

I think it is bad that any body of men, either 50,000 or 10,000, should be left in the position of having neither insurance nor employment; but I am going to maintain, as I have done frequently, that if that is true in respect of the ex-army man it is also true of the man who is not in the army. I am not prepared to say that the ex-army man, notwithstanding the services he rendered to the State and the Army, is entitled to privileges which cannot be considered in relation to the civilian who is willing to serve the State, though not in the Army, and who did serve the State in many cases. It cannot be taken as any slur or reflection upon the men who joined the Army when we remind Deputies that, at least, they were clothed, fed and paid while they were in the service of the Army, while many other men in the same position prior to their recruitment, but not in the Army for one reason or another, had not the advantage of that payment or remuneration during that same period. These people are worse off by the fact that they had not that period of service in the Army, and, therefore, were still further dependent upon charity or beggary, or some other kind of extraneous sustenance.

I urge upon the Minister that, valuable as this increase in benefit will be to those who are lucky enough to obtain it, it is not going to assist the thousands of men and women who were not hitherto insured, and that it is as great a crime against the individual soul to allow a person to die of starvation whether he was insured or was not insured, or whether he was in the Army or was not in the Army. People talk about the credit of the State and about the destruction of the national credit. It is a much greater discredit to the national character to allow large numbers of people to go hungry and to die of starvation. That should be the credit that we should endeavour at least to sustain, that no man, woman or child in this country shall be allowed to go hungry if we can prevent and provide against it, and no man, woman or child should be allowed to live in luxury while there are others going hungry and dying. In that way I say that this Bill falls far short of the requirements. It is going to assist those who have been lucky enough hitherto to be insured; it is going to put men and women in the position they were in at the beginning of last benefit year, but it fails to touch the thousands who were not in that fortunate position, and, as far as they are concerned, it is not adding one meal to their table.

Deputy Hewat, with some support, I think, from the benches on my right, was obliged to refer to one factor as the cause of the general state of industry and unemployment in the country. He talked of the lack of confidence and said employers would not invest their money because they had no confidence. No confidence in what? No confidence in the stability of industry, no confidence that the industry in which they would invest their money would return to them a normal rate of profit. I will retort and say that the workmen have no confidence in the employers' ability to conduct the operations of industry in such a way as to ensure that the people will be provided with the things they need, to insure that the workman willing to work will be employed. Workmen have a lack of confidence in the ability and capacity of the employing classes in this country to conduct industry in such a way as to provide for the needs of the people of this country. They will not do that unless they can see the normal rate of profit ahead of them.

This question of confidence has two edges, and I maintain, as I have done, and notwithstanding Deputy Good's reference the other day to the same question, that when you can ensure confidence among workingmen that employment will be stable and guaranteed, then you can begin to talk about output and loyalty; when you can give confidence to the workingmen you may then be able to have some confidence amongst the investing public. I think I asked Deputies on that occasion, by an interjection which was not picked up, or was not understood, whether there had been any promise given by the investing public that they were willing to accept a reduction in the normal rate of interest on, say, the National Loan. I got no satisfaction, and I have not seen any evidence of any general desire on the part of the investing public, to re-inspire confidence in the country's welfare by offering to invest their money at a lower rate of interest than is current. If that were obvious, if it were seen that the investing public were prepared to do that, and to show their goodwill to the country, and to have confidence in its future to that extent, then we might begin to look up, and challenge the workmen of the country to do this and that and the other to satisfy the requirements of Deputy Hewat and his colleagues.

I think a very little calculation would show that a reduction of one per cent. in the rate of interest demanded by the investing public would go very much further in reduction of prices and possibly towards profitable investment in industry than an equalpro rata reduction in the rate of wages. I ask Deputies to turn that over in their minds, and to see whether that promise on the part of the investing public, capitalists small or great, is made, that they would be prepared to accept one or two per cent. less than the normal in the rate of interest on their investments; when we see that, then we can begin to talk about confidence in the future prosperity of the country. It is a very ominous and a very terrible fact to be faced with, the figures the Minister gave us, that nearly one-fifth of the total number in insurable persons in the country are, and have been for twelve months, perhaps longer—I do not know how long more, probably for two years and a half—one-fifth of the insurable persons, wage-earners in the country had been unemployed. To wait for the developments of trade, as the normal process of absorbing these people, is, I am afraid, to rely upon what is unreliable.

We see, every week that passes, that political changes have brought about economic changes, have brought about readjustment of economic conditions, and are likely to bring greater and more frequent readjustments. That will become more obvious as time goes on. I agree with the diagnosis expressed several times in the House, and outside, by the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Justice, that the economic balance in the country is awry, that there are too many persons, too great a proportion of the population engaged in distribution and transportation, too few engaged in production, too many engaged in professions and unproductive or only indirectly productive occupations. I do not believe that until we are prepared to face the new situation frankly and boldly and deal with it directly, that we can cure the abnormal condition wholly. I think we will never get down to the seven per cent. that is called normal until we have radically changed our economic methods; that we shall have directly to encourage productivity rather than distribution and transportation, and that we shall have to reduce the number of people engaged in the larger cities, the capital, and others, purely in shop-keeping and merchanting and exchange of goods.

While we are content with that aspect, and continuing that process of importation and exportation in the way we have been habituated to, we are really not going to remedy this terrible evil. I believe, until the Government is prepared to be very bold in this matter, to undertake direct works of production, either by their own direct employment of labour, or by support of indirect employment of labour on directly productive works, that we are not going to get even near the solution of this problem or bring down the number of unemployed to what was considered normal before the war. The proposals to assist a little here and there, development of schemes at the Docks, Marino and other building sites, and so on, clearance of sites, and all little schemes of that kind, helpful as they are, are only being pursued in the hope that within a few months we shall be engaged in some big scheme of production, or in big schemes, that may indirectly and at second-hand, help production.

I hope the Minister will be justified in his optimism, but I think he will find that when the fourth benefit year is drawing to a close, he will want to make another bite at this cherry, and have to bring in another Unemployment Insurance Act, and that he will be forced to do what he ought to do now, that is, to take into benefit all people insured or not who prove their willingness to accept employment when it is offered and who prove to be genuinely unemployed workmen and workwomen.

I want to add a little to that remark regarding workwomen. The problem of unemployment amongst women is very serious. The winter season is going to affect them perhaps even to a greater degree than it affects men. The number of women who will not have insurable interests in those unemployment insurance schemes, who will not come into benefit, or whose benefit will be very light, is, I am advised, very considerable. I say, in regard to them, that we ought to bring them into the same category and treat them the same way as men in a similar position and as the Minister proposes to do in respect of those men who have served in the National Army. Once he has given away the principle in regard to the bringing into benefit of ex-soldiers who have not been insured, there is no logical reason, and there should be no financial reason, why the same principle should not be applied to all other persons in a similar position.

By some inverse process of reasoning, I find myself somewhat in agreement with Deputy Johnson in regard to his opposition to this Bill. But that does not imply agreement as to its details or worth. My agreement is more or less on the fundamental principle of discord, the agreement of irreconcilable quantities against a measure of common antipathy. I cannot join in the chorus of congratulations extended on the advent of this Bill. This measure which we are discussing proposes to continue and give certain advances to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and Deputies, availing themselves of this, have departed more or less from the mere text of the measure and have made speeches on the whole question of economics and employment.

I suppose under the motion that is permissible, for it seems to me that in dealing with this question of unemployment we are gradually falling into a state of chronic helplessness. Six years ago, I think, this practice first saw the light in this country. Then, for the first time, as far as I am aware, in history, men received pay during the season of unemployment and idleness. It is true that relief measures were given at other periods, but I am not aware that men received money standing by the walls. They had to work or give certain service for this money.

Or lounging in hotels.

In dealing with this question, it seems to me that the State cannot go on indefinitely on the present system, and that there has got to be a radical departure. The State is eating up its small reserve of capital and is getting no useful return. All we are maintaining is thestatus quo. There is no advance. There is positively a decline, and we are becoming less and less able to bear the burden of the dole. Yet alternatives have been broached. The question of security has been largely dealt with. Business people have been told by the Deputies on the left that they ought to launch out and show some initiative and enterprise and that they should not be so reluctant to part with money to start productive work. It is a question of confidence. What is confidence? Deputy Johnson said that they objected to put by this money because they could not get a suitable return—that the investment would not give a dividend. Business people cannot be altruists. When they sink capital in any concern, it must at least give them some return. I think the Labour Deputies are beating the air and doing themselves a positive disservice in protesting against a legitimate return for capital.

What is a legitimate return?

Anything up to five or six per cent. After paying all expenses, I think five or six per cent. is a legitimate return for capital. How can confidence be created, is the question. I look upon it as more or less a question of peace—political peace and social peace. Neither one nor the other have we got in the country now.

If you increase unemployment you will have it.

You will not have it.

That is what you are advocating.

I am not, because no man of common humanity can remain unmoved by the question of unemployment. I am protesting against paying out money and getting no useful return. Far from getting a useful return, the spirit of demoralisation is growing more and more. It is eating up the soul of the nation. I repeat that with this endless, insensate class war you can have no hope of improving the unhappy lot of the unemployed. I am not preaching class war.

You are acting it.

I am only dealing with facts. Truth is sometimes very bitter, but it is ever useful, when we are dealing with this question, I wonder whether the unemployed of this country, hard and all as their position is, are not better off than the unfortunates in Russia, who have no capitalists to oppress them. I repeat that it is essential to drop this spirit of class war. Perhaps the truth had best be blurted out. The need of this country, in the political sense, is peace. There ought to be no reason why the simmering fires of hate and thestatus quo even in politics, should be maintained.

What of your speeches in Clare?

A radical departure, I repeat, is necessary.

A radical departure, with thestatus quo maintained?

There is nothing contradictory in it. In the economic sense, apart from the social and political sense, I maintain a departure is necessary. If this country is to carry on, it is necessary that, as far as possible, useful and constructive work should be substituted for the dole.

Would you be able to provide it?

The State necessarily must contribute out of its limited resources, but I see no reason why part of the funds created by those who are in insurable occupations should not be given to help to provide constructive work. I see nothing radically wrong in it. I see nothing immoral in the question of contribution by the Unemployment Fund towards constructive work. Would it not be better and more self-respecting for the worker when he loses his post if he could get any kind of work, drainage work, road repairing, or the hundred and one things that are always open and for which there is ever a demand? Would it not be better that he should go on that work for so many days a week and draw the sum that is given to him than stand as he does, idly, at present? I maintain it would be much more self-respecting and would enhance the worker's character rather than injure it, as does the present demoralising system.

What about the Clare Co. Council?

I am not always at loggerheads with Clare Co. Council. I agree that as far as possible money given in the Dáil to Co. Clare should be given to the men working on the roads. I admit the scheme has its limitations. You will find men physically incapable of working on the roads. I would still continue the process of paying those men the dole, but where men are physically fit, it would be better policy to set them a task and then allot them the sum that is given them under the present arrangements. The contention was put forward here that not alone was this measure inadequate, but that there should be a radical extension of the principle to agricultural workers. If I were to go very closely into it—and a long memory is oftener a curse than a blessing—I could tell of incidents which happened when this unemployment system first came into being. I could tell of how agriculture was neglected and how all farming operations were suspended while this money was going.

The farmers were drawing it at the time.

Some farmers may have drawn it. I do not deny that; more shame to those farmers! But I deny absolutely the implication that the majority of them drew it.

Some of them entered into collusion with the workers to go on the labour exchange.

Admittedly; that shows the moral perversity of so many of us. I should object in the strongest manner to any extension of this principle. It is not that I am unaware that there is, at times, very serious and very acute distress amongst agricultural workers, but I contend that men have to work under this system at wages which the industry can pay. By seeking too much they lose all, and even if this Bill is to provide the necessaries of life——

Are you against the Bill?

I am not. The very large question underlying the Bill has been dealt with, but none of the Deputies who have spoken has confined himself to a technical discussion of the Bill. The larger and higher principles were rather dealt with. It is also suggested that certain schemes of industrial effort should be embarked upon. After all, that is a question of finding money and getting public security. Somehow or other, it seems to me in connection with these matters that what we are suffering from in this country is dole and dope. On the one hand, we have the dole and, on the other hand, we have the dope.

We are getting a lot of the latter now.

I think we can get industrial prosperity by hard work and hard work alone. And that work must be applied in the true spirit of industrial economy. Deputy Everett suggested, for instance, that men should get 65/- per week while out of employment. He also suggested that the children should be paid 5/- per week until they reached the age of sixteen and, inferentially, qualify for the 65/- per week. Might I ask how long the country could afford to carry on at that rate? The country is hard pushed to pay 15/- a week, or whatever the sum is at the moment, to men out of work. To multiply that sum by four, and, in addition, to give bounties for children is altogether out of the question.

Deputy Johnson, taking up the thread of Deputy Everett's discourse, said that no woman or child should be permitted to live in luxury while others are dying. After all, is not that preaching class war? Surely, the Labour Deputies at this period of the day have learned that the more intense the class-war the greater is their suffering and the greater is their ruin. That is the lesson of bitter experience, and I am surprised that they have not learned it. It seems to me that the spirit of initiative and enterprise has been largely extinguished in this country by that kind of talk. I would ask Deputies, and especially the Labour Deputies, to realise that the greater the unrest the greater must be their hardship and the greater their suffering. I ask them to take up a more conciliatory attitude. While I appreciate the fact that those Deputies express themselves desirous of substituting useful constructive work for the dole, I would ask them to realise that no industry can pay greater wages than the profit which it earns.

I apologise to the Dáil for pursuing this subject further. But some of the remarks that fell from the Deputy who has just sat down induced me to do so. Most of us who are conversant with the Deputy's speeches since he came to the House, are inclined to look to them for some amusement. But the mournful wail he sends up here from time to time about the dole is getting tiresome. His speeches in connection with the dole have already been repudiated from these benches. The Unemployment Insurance Act is one that is supposed to give men in insured occupations benefit for the contributions they have paid. If the Unemployment Insurance Fund is bankrupt to-day, it is not the fault of workers who paid their contributions and who are now unemployed.

The general trend of the speech so far as I could gather was, that he represented the unemployed workers of this country at the present time as loungers who are not anxious or willing to work, as absolute shirkers. I repudiate that statement. We on these Benches are very much inclined for some time past to take very little notice of any statement that this Deputy makes, but at all events we want to repudiate the statement made here tonight. He has referred to the demoralisation that was created in this country as a result of the operations of the Unemployment Insurance Act. I agree with him, and I have some knowledge of certain demoralisation which was caused as a result of that. I come from a district in West Cork where some people drew unemployment insurance, and it was found that about 70 per cent. of them were farmers' sons. The result was that 30 or 40 of them were prosecuted. Fortunately for themselves, but unfortunately for the people who ought to be receiving the benefits of the Unemployment Insurance Act, they were not sent to prison. They were fined.

I wonder if Deputy Connor Hogan would agree that they could come under the category of loungers, that he so glibly trotted out with regard to the workers a few moments ago. He has said, as far as I can gather, that constructive work was necessary instead of unemployment insurance. I agree if constructive work was available. But in the very same breath he said that the Ministry, in their present financial position, were not in a position to offer a solution in the shape of constructive work. Then if they were not, there is only one alternative, and that is to give temporary assistance through the Unemployment Insurance Act as the Minister indicated. Again, as the Minister indicated here when he spoke a few weeks ago, if the Unemployment Insurance Fund is bankrupt at present, that is no reason why that fund should not right itself, if work is available, and we are all hoping it will be available in a very short time. Deputy Connor Hogan emphasised very much the doleful story of the dole statement, about which we have heard so much in the Dáil. I wonder when the proposal of the Minister for Lands and Agriculture was introduced in regard to relieving the farmers in the matter of the rates, did the Deputy consider it a dole?

Might I intervene for a moment? The Minister for Lands and Agriculture did not relieve the farmers of the rates. He gave them a loan. That is a very different thing.

But he gave them the sort of assistance that we are asking should be given in this Bill. Would he consider that a loan given to farmers in the shape of a grant for the purchase of seed potatoes a dole? Would he call the applications which members of his Party and other Parties in the Dáil are making on the Minister at present for the withholding of proceedings in connection with arrears of rent a dole or temporary assistance? This statement about the dole is about the most absolute piffle and is a result of the very same feelings that go to make the class war that Deputy Connor Hogan is denouncing. As far as we are concerned, I believe that the Minister, from our experience of him, is out to do the best in this matter. I believe that he is looking at this problem as a Minister in his position ought to look at it, and I trust he will not be influenced by the silly vapourings of men like Deputy Connor Hogan.

Speakers, in the course of this debate, took up a double line. They wandered as far as their speeches were concerned, very much outside the text of the Unemployment Insurance Act or outside of anything I had said in introducing this Bill. At the same time, they very deliberately and very completely closed their eyes to some of the statements I have made. I am told, for instance, that people will be left without benefit, and that there are people for whom starvation may be in store. That type of statement is founded on the fact that certain people who may receive benefit from this will receive it for a very limited number of weeks. That would be so if the only possible monies that might go to the relief of unemployment in this country came through the channel of unemployment insurance. But I have already indicated other monies. The sum of money here is about £70,000. I indicated sums of money almost up to £900,000, ready for distribution, or about to be asked for. I think that when all these things are taken together there cannot be any great allegation that there is any failure to deal with this very urgent problem.

Would the Minister say whether, if the employment that he hopes to prevail were offering, would not that relieve any fund which might be made available for these people that we are complaining about?

If the work were available it would relieve the funds.

Therefore, the funds would not be called upon.

The funds would not be called upon. But the other money we are supplying would be. You can argue on both sides, you can say you have unemployment money to the extent of £370,000; you have so many people unemployed; the money will not go round them and some will starve. Then, on the other side, you have so much for works, so many unemployed, and so much a week in wages. That money will not go round, and again you can say some people will starve. If you work the matter out in that way you will get one side of the picture. You will have a completely logical conclusion if you take that view only on one side of the picture. But if you add both sides together, put all these moneys I have spoken of together, and add up the total of your unemployed agricultural labourers and others, then, I think, there will be money enough to go round.

The agricultural labourer has been referred to here by several Deputies. The £250,000 which is to be asked for tomorrow will go to the agricultural labourers in great part, and the roads money has already gone to agricultural labourers in great part, so that they are not entirely unprovided for, even though agricultural labourers who are not ex-National Army men do not come within the provisions of the Bill we are actually discussing. There was one further point urged with regard to these agricultural labourers. People do not seem to understand that this is an employment insurance Bill which is being amended; there is an Unemployment Insurance Act being amended by this Bill. Agricultural labourers never were insured against unemployment. If Deputy Hall were here he would presumably ask why not. I could refer him to Deputy Wilson and his colleagues. Deputy Wilson made the suggestion here to-day that instead of burdening the Insurance Fund I should ask the employers and those employees who are lucky enough to be in work at the time to pay extra. Now, let us apply that to the farmers. Will they pay even the ordinary amount necessary to create an unemployment fund for the agricultural labourers? And, seeing that unemployment is abnormal amongst agricultural labourers at the moment, will they pay such double or treble normal payment as may be necessary to enable the benefit to be paid to agricultural labourers at the moment? Will Deputy Wilson, on the part of the Farmers' Party, approve with regard to agricultural labourers the principle he wants put in force for the employers in industrial occupations?

The Unemployment Insurance Act applies to industrial workers, and my point is that industrial employers should keep industrial workers, and that the farmers should keep their labourers. Do you see?

We are progressing.

We say that the State should not be asked to advance moneys which will probably never be repaid.

The Deputy has repeated what he said during the course of the debate, but he has evaded the question that I put to him—Will the farmers keep their unemployed? Is Deputy Wilson prepared to say that the farmers are prepared to keep their labourers who are unemployed?

They are doing so. We pay Home Help.

Surely somebody else pays rates besides the farmers?

Is Deputy Wilson prepared to make contributions with regard to agricultural labourers sufficient to create an unemployment insurance fund for agricultural unemployed labourers? If he is, then we can get into grips with him immediately and see what the employees' contribution will be, and also the State contribution.

Will the Minister define who is an agricultural labourer— that is the point?

That will be left to the farmers.

I would say the class of people to whom the Deputy a moment ago referred as being kept by the farmers. These are agricultural labourers to whom I refer. That is the position with regard to agricultural unemployed; there has been no fund created for them. That there is no fund is due to the fact that agricultural employers are not willing to subscribe their portion to create a suitable fund for agricultural unemployed labourers.

Agricultural labourers themselves are not willing to subscribe.

When they are prepared to do that, the agricultural labourers' problem will be solved. At present it is partly solved in this way by the provision of £250,000, by the road grant and other things.

It is not fair, in discussing this Bill, to criticise it, because it does not do what it never intended to do. It is not fair to take up such a line of argument as saying: "Why is not something put down, and why are you so callous as to leave out the agricultural labourer?" and at the same time close your eyes to the fact that provision is being made for them by a relief vote given definitely for their own particular relief. This item, as regards agricultural labourers, I desire to insist upon, because it runs through the speeches of many Deputies. Deputy Morrissey talked about enforcing compliance. It is quite true to say, and assert, that the borrowings would be much less if there were full compliance with the terms of the Act. I would ask Deputy Morrissey to do his best to ensure compliance in this way: Quite a number of employees are ready to allow the employer to escape making his contribution to the Fund. When they allow the employer to escape, they themselves escape certain deductions being made. If employees would complain in every instance in which they know that there is not compliance, we could very easily secure full compliance with the Act, and undoubtedly the Fund would benefit greatly and there would not be any great need. We could possibly reduce the borrowing by thirty per cent., or even by a great amount. The matter of compensation for destroyed buildings, about which Deputy Morrissey asked one question as to whether interest was accumulating for the benefit of those who had got awards, is also one upon which I would like to touch. There a distinction must be made. Awards for property destroyed prior to the Truce, awards made by the British Government for burnings by the Auxiliaries and the Black-and-Tans, do, I understand, bear interest. That interest accrues for the benefit of the person who got the award; but in no other case does any interest accrue.

Those were the cases I was referring to.

In those cases it is unfortunate that we have no control. That applies to the great portion of the burnings in Cork. Over that money we have absolutely no control. Whatever pressure we could put on the owners of the O'Connell Street property, we can only put very much less pressure on the owners of the destroyed property in Cork. Deputy Corish raised a point which I want to stress, as it may be misunderstood. That is the question of the difference between ex-National Army men who were in insurable occupations and those who had not been in insurable occupations. This new provision in the Act refers only to those who had not been in insurable occupations.

The Deputy may put a hypothetical case to the effect that an ex-soldier who had been in an insurable occupation may, under the present Bill, find himself with only six weeks' contributions revived, while a man who was never in an insurable occupation could draw benefit for the whole fourteen weeks. That will be the case, but it is not a complete statement. The man who finds that now he has only six weeks' benefit revived will, of course, have had a previous six weeks' benefit, and some number of weeks' benefit in years previous to that, whereas, the non-insurable ex-soldier only now for the first time gets all his benefit heaped together.

If the man who now only receives a six weeks' benefit happened to be working during the third benefit year, does not that create a peculiar situation?

A man who was working through a third benefit year will have further stamps to his credit.

But not sufficient to entitle him to ten weeks' benefit.

A man working will get full benefit for any contributions paid as a result of his work; he will get the revived contributions. He is not prejudiced, and nothing is deducted. I cannot respond to the contention made by Deputy Everett that I ought to fight a fierce battle, or that I had not been able to fight a successful enough battle, with the Chamber of Commerce people who controlled the officials in the Finance Department. If I knew those people, I might engage in violent conflict with them; but it is very hard to fight invisible folk.

They are represented there.

Deputy Johnson made a remark based on the principle that from those who get much, much will be expected, and from those who have little, even that little will be taken away. I hope I am not misrepresenting him. I do not see any line in the Bill which takes away anything from anybody. There is no deduction made from anybody. The Bill is full of multiplications and full of revivals, but there are no subtractions from anybody.

Only the taxpayers.

Nobody here represents the taxpayer but the farmers.

The Deputy went on to refer to the case of ex-Army men, and as much as insists that I had departed from insurance. There was no logical reason, or financial reason, why that should not be further departed from. His argument, in other words, was why uncovenanted benefit should not be given to all and sundry. There is a logical reason. These men have to be looked upon as people who were prevented from going into insurable occupations by reason of the fact that they were serving their country. That is a very exceptional case. Because it is an exceptional case, exceptional treatment has been given to them. That there shall be no financial reason, is a thing we all hope will come about some day.

Nobody, in view of our present financial condition, can assert with confidence that the statement that there is not a financial reason is a true statement of facts. There is a financial reason. The £370,000 which I stated would be the cost of the present provisions, would have to be doubled; certainly, an additional £300,000 would have to be added on to give uncovenanted benefit to all and sundry. There is a very definite financial reason against that. The Deputy has gone a little further in the course of those debates. Previously I did put a question to the Deputy as to whether he thought nationalisation of industry, in general or in particular, would be advisable, and, without exactly denying it, he asked me if I ever heard him demand that. I have now, for the first time, heard him demanding something approaching it.

You have not.

I heard him say that the Government should directly employ or assist those engaged in productive work. It is, at least, an approach to nationalisation.

It is an approach in so far as those people are concerned. But, surely, you are not contending that the other four-fifths must be employed by the State because one-fifth is employed otherwise?

I am not asserting that the Deputy has put forward a plea for nationalisation in everything.

Certainly not.

He has, in some things. That is an advance.

I am demanding that the public authority, municipal or national, must, if private employers and private property owners are not prepared to administer their trust in such a way as to absorb all willing workmen, come forward and take their place, or give the right of entry into the soil to the men concerned.

That is a very definite statement that the Deputy has made. I do not want to have any argument on that point, but I am glad that the Deputy did make that statement. I wanted to get that. It will come in useful later on.

I hope it will, and I trust you will take cognisance of it and act upon it.

There has been nothing said against the principle of the Unemployment Insurance Bill, and that is what we were supposed to have been discussing on Second Reading. Deputy Corish did raise a point about certain insurable people. I would like to see some amendment from him in order to know what is in his mind. I hope the people to whom he refers are within the scope of this Bill. However, we can see that when the Committee Stage is reached.

Could the Minister find out, in the meantime, the proportion of men insured from 1912 to 1920? What was the number of people insured under the Unemployment Act of 1912 up to the year 1920? Also, could he let me have the numbers that came on since?

I can get those particulars for you.

Question:—"That the Bill be now read a Second Time"—put and agreed to.

When will the Committee Stage be taken?

With the permission of the Dáil, I would like to get this Bill through with the least possible delay, and if the final Stages of the Bill could be taken on Tuesday or Wednesday, all the better.

The Minister will not have forgotten what he said a moment ago when he asked Deputy Corish to introduce an amendment embodying all he suggested. It is not easy to do that within the next few hours. While we should give every facility to the passing of the Bill, I would wish that the Committee Stage would not be taken until Tuesday, because there may be points that could be raised with a view to improving the Bill and those points might be acceptable to the Minister. We will then assist in the passing of the Bill immediately afterwards.

Committee Stage fixed for Tuesday, 9th December.

I move the adjournment until 7.15 p.m.

Question put, and agreed to.
The Dáil adjourned at 6.35 p.m. and resumed at 7.20 p.m.
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE took the Chair.