Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 2 Jun 1936

Vol. 62 No. 10

Insurance Bill, 1935—Recommittal.

Ordered:—"That the Bill be recommitted."

I move amendment No. 1:—

At the end of sub-section (2), line 21, to add the words, "provided that in case of any inconsistency between that Act and this Act the provisions of this Act shall prevail."

This amendment stands on the Order Paper in order to clear up doubt. I suppose it is an accepted principle that an Act of Parliament repeals every previous Act, in so far as it directly contradicts it. Nevertheless, it is deemed expedient to add schedules to many Bills setting out the sections of other Acts which it is intended to repeal outright. You sometimes apparently get cases in which there is an inconsistency between an early Act and the most recent Act, potential litigants are not quite clear as to their rights, and test cases ensue in order to establish which Act should prevail. It is, therefore, thought advantageous that a specific note should be made in the first section of the Bill that when the Act becomes law, in the event of any inconsistency manifesting itself hereafter, the terms of this Act should prevail.

I do not think there is any necessity for this amendment. If during the course of the discussions on the various sections of the Bill any necessity for a provision of this kind is shown, I am prepared to have the matter considered, but I cannot at the moment see how the necessity for it arises.

Would the Minister consider putting in such parts of the 1909 Act as he wishes to have clearly made the law of this country at the present moment, so that the one Act will form the one code under which people dealing with insurance matters in this country will operate, and will be enabled to know clearly and precisely what their duties and their rights are, without having reference to a previous Act which was passed prior to this State being established? Would it not be a simple matter for the Minister to select, with the aid of the Parliamentary draftsman, those provisions of the Act of 1909 which he wishes to operate, and put them in on Report or another stage, so as to have one Bill dealing with insurance law in this country?

I will give the matter consideration, but I am not quite sure what difficulties will arise in that connection.

Would the Minister consider the definition of the word "policy," which may possibly cause some trouble and inconsistency? I intend to raise the matter later on the definition clause, under Section 3. There might possibly be an inconsistency there; I mention that as one particular instance. In the Act of 1909 there is no comprehensive definition of the word "policy." There are definitions dealing with certain kinds of policies.

If the Minister would indicate his intention of seriously considering, between now and the Report Stage, the proposal to make this Bill a codification of insurance law in this country, then the necessity for my amendment would not arise. If he does not do that, I think the case mentioned by Deputy Costello admirably illustrates the point I have in mind. A word such as "policy" has been used in the 1909 Act, and has become the subject of statutory definition, or, what is more elusive, has probably become the subject of judicial definition, and we may find that what purports to be the statutory definition of the word "policy" in this Bill conflicts with the judicial definition of what the word "policy" has meant heretofore, or the part definition of what "policy" was in the earlier Acts. Therefore, it would be highly desirable that whatever appears as a definition in this Act should prevail against any other definition that was existing. However, if the Minister indicates his desire to consider the matter at his leisure, I have no desire to press the amendment at this stage.

I will have the matter looked into.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 1 and 2 put and agreed to.
In this Act the expression "the Minister" means the Minister for Industry and Commerce;

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 5, lines 30-31, to delete the words "Industry and Commerce" and substitute the word "Finance".

This Bill undoubtedly represents the queerest piece of Nosey-Parker legislation that has ever been introduced into this Dáil. There are practically dictatorial powers given to the Minister under the Bill, powers of a kind which should not be entrusted to any Department, and least of all—judging by the way in which the Department of Industry and Commerce has handled this measure from the beginning—to the Department of Industry and Commerce. It scarcely seems conceivable that any representative Government would bring into a legislative assembly very far-reaching and important legislation of this kind, without previously consulting those people who are most vitally concerned with the consequences of that legislation. One would certainly believe that before embarking on such a very hazardous course the Minister would have consulted with the representatives of the various companies who are responsible for the insurance industry in this country. Probably, outside of agriculture, there is no industry in this country so important from the point of view of the amount of employment it gives, from the point of view of the very many and varied interests which it touches, and from the point of view of its importance to the nation and to the Government. One would certainly have thought that the Minister, before introducing this Bill, would have taken those people into his confidence, or at all events would have consulted them. One could scarcely conceive the Minister bringing in a Bill, for example, dealing with banking in this country, a business which, in many respects, is not as important as the insurance business, and completely ignoring the joint stock banks and the people responsible for carrying on that particular business in the country. That has been the treatment given to those firms by the Minister in embarking on this particular piece of legislation. The Minister, apparently, in his career in this House, has adopted a technique of his own.

The amendment we are considering is amendment No. 2, which purports to substitute the Minister for Finance for the Minister for Industry and Commerce. It seems to the Chair that the Deputy is making a Second Reading speech on the policy of the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Mr. Bourke

I am merely justifying my reasons for asking to have the administration of this measure transferred to another Department. As I say, the Minister in this, as in other respects, has shown that he has very little consideration for the industries with which he is tampering. Apropos of the general attitude of the Minister towards industries, it just occurs to me that I read a letter in the Irish Independent of yesterday, in which the Minister is criticised for adopting exactly the same attitude towards another concern in this country. I will just read a brief extract from the letter, which is signed “J. Morgan, Director, A. Morgan & Son, Ltd., Dublin”:—

"It stands to sense that both our bureaucracy and our statesmen were completely without practical experience when the new policy of trade agreements, quotas and new markets was adopted, and one would have thought they would at least have moved cautiously and have claimed assistance in the new ventures of the experienced traders whose life-long trading arrangements they were about to shatter and destroy; but our experience of the Department of Industry and Commerce has been that it moves recklessly, blusteringly and arrogantly, and that it only asks for your views after it has `adopted a scheme' and at a time when it is too late to save itself, because of time limits prescribed by an Act."

We are confronted with a similar situation. A Bill was rushed through this Dáil. First of all, I suppose about 18 months ago the headings of a Bill were introduced, and a First Reading was given to it. We were expecting from day to day that a Second Reading would follow, but it dragged on from month to month, and the various companies were waiting; none of them was consulted about it. Eventually a Second Reading was given to a different Bill to the one originally introduced. It was bad enough to have the companies generally treated in that cavalier fashion, and if that treatment had been universally imposed there might have been some palliation of the Minister's conduct, but unfortunately there appear to have been leakages. It is a well-known fact that about the time the first measure was introduced two important foreign insurance companies were about to leave this country, but, apparently, as a result of whatever information they received— reassuring information that nothing detrimental to their affairs would take place by way of legislation——

I suggest that the Deputy is now wandering from the amendment.

Mr. Bourke

——those companies remained in this country and built palatial offices here. There was an Irish company in a very similar position——

The Deputy is now going into the general merits of the measure.

Mr. Bourke

I am just explaining what the position is, and why I object to the Department of Industry and Commerce having control of the administration of this measure.

Hear, hear.

The Deputy may object, but he cannot, on an amendment, go through the whole Bill, and the characteristics of the Bill, as a ground for the objection.

Mr. Bourke

I must make a case for transferring the functions to another Department. I am making a charge of favouritism in that particular case. I say that as a result of the information those companies received they built up palatial offices in Dublin. Apparently they have no fears of what the consequences to foreign companies in this country are going to be. At the same time, an Irish company was in a similar position—anxious to improve its buildings and waiting from day to day, after purchasing its buildings, to know what would happen. That company had plans and specifications drawn up. It had incurred considerable expense in getting rid of tenants and in various other ways. The thing dragged on from day to day, as I have said, and at the end of it all the Bill is introduced, and it is discovered that, after that measure becomes law, all the work of that company will be useless and that it will be at considerable loss.

Again, another thing has happened during the interval between the introduction of the original Bill and the Second Reading. Another company was established in this State and, apparently, that company got such very pertinent information that it was able to draft its Articles of Association so as to fit exactly into the proposed Bill. That company was floated for a certain amount of capital—perhaps £100,000 of subscribed capital— and £56,000 of that capital was subscribed by the Industrial Credit Corporation, and I assume that that was done with the cognizance and, probably, with the approval of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. At the same time, another £5,000 of the capital of that company was subscribed from Public Bodies Mutual Insurance Company—a body that was organised specifically for providing funds for public bodies. On the whole, this Bill has had a very shady origin and I do not think we are entitled to entrust the Department of Industry and Commerce with the carrying out of this particular business. Apart altogether from that, I believe that the Department of the Minister for Finance is a more suitable Department for the carrying on of this business than the Department of Industry and Commerce, because insurance is a business that will take, in the nature of things, more of a financial colour than a commercial colour, and also because I believe that you will find in the Department of Finance officials more competent to deal with this matter of insurance than you will find in the Department of Industry and Commerce. Besides that, the tendency being, of late, to increase to an alarming extent the number of officials in the Department of Industry and Commerce, I feel that, if this matter is left in the hands of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, you will have almost as many officials appointed to deal with the administration of this measure as you will have officials losing their positions in the various insurance companies as a result of the passage of this measure. Those, Sir, are some of the arguments that I had in mind in putting down this amendment.

I was interested to hear the Deputy telling the House the faults of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and I was sorry that he did not complete his speech by telling us the virtues of the Minister for Finance, which, evidently, would complete the reasons that he had for introducing this amendment. Perhaps the Deputy will do so now if I invite him to do so.

Mr. Bourke

I have nothing, personally, against the Minister for Industry and Commerce in introducing this particular amendment.

Surely, Sir, the inference is clear that anything would be better than the Minister for Industry and Commerce? I should like to hear the Minister for Industry and Commerce rebut that.

I have invited Deputy Bourke to complete his reasons for introducing this amendment.

Is it possible, Sir, that the Minister for Industry and Commerce thinks to discharge his obligations to this House by remaining silent after the pretty glaring expose of his activities by Deputy Bourke? Has the Minister any answer to the allegation made by Deputy Bourke that the Minister afforded secret information to a body which floated a company in this city with Articles of Association clearly designed to conform to a Bill which had not yet been completed, and has he any answer to the allegation that that body is still waiting for some further favours from the Minister? Surely the Minister has some reply to that? Are those allegations well-founded or are they not well-founded? If they are well-founded, surely this House is entitled to some explanation of why it is that certain individuals are entitled to preferential information from the Minister's Department and that others are refused it?

Does Deputy Dillon accept Deputy Bourke's statement that a certain insurance corporation was given £56,000 out of the Trades Loans Fund with the authority of the Minister's Department?

I accept or reject nothing, but I say that, when statements are made in a considered manner and with the moderation that Deputy Bourke has displayed, it is the duty of the Minister to inform this House whether these allegations are well-founded or not. I say that the Minister, in view of such allegations, is bound to tell us whether he admits the impeachment brought against him or, if he does not admit it, that he is bound to disprove it. Deputy Bourke has taken the correct steps to state what he has stated. There are no other steps for him to take except in the presence of the Minister and on an occasion when the Minister has ample opportunity of dealing with the matter. Does the Minister accept that?

Does Deputy Dillon expect the Minister to waste his own time and that of the House in refuting the kind of allegations that have been made?

I expect the Minister to speak for himself instead of putting up some of his innocent supporters to reply for him.

Perhaps I can end this by saying that all Deputy Bourke's allegations are as stupid as most of Deputy Dillon's allegations. The only allegation that I can relate to any known fact is the allegation that an insurance company got a loan of £56,000 under the Trade Loans Acts. That is entirely incorrect.

Did the Minister say that it was entirely correct?

No, I said it was entirely incorrect.

Mr. Bourke

I should like to state that it is correct, and if the Minister cares to look up the books, he will get that information in Dublin Castle for a fee of one shilling.

Surely Deputies are aware that particulars of every trade loan given must be laid before the Dáil and that Deputies can look up the records of all loans made under the Trade Loans Acts since their inception.

Mr. Bourke

I was referring to the Industrial Credit Corporation.

I have nothing to do with that.

It is, in fact, true that the capital of this company was subscribed by the Industrial Credit Corporation.

Does the Deputy know that?

Deputy Bourke has stated that that amount of capital was subscribed by the Industrial Credit Corporation.

I have nothing to do with that.

The Minister does not deny it. If Deputy Bourke had read the letter from Messrs. Morgan and Company completely it would have been seen that they commented on a similar comment made by the Minister a few days ago in reply to another matter that I raised. I had brought the Minister's attention to a certain matter, and the Minister's reply was to the effect that there was no truth in any of the allegations made by Deputy Dillon, and that he had no time to investigate stupid allegations of that kind. With that, the matter passed. These are almost exactly the same words as the Minister has employed to-day. On the day following what I have referred to, a letter appeared——

Letters that appeared in that matter are not relevant to this amendment.

No, Sir. I agree. My only point in bringing up this matter is to show that the Minister's reply to Deputy Bourke is not worth the breath he used on it.

If the Chair rules that a matter is not relevant, it is not relevant.

Surely, Sir, it is relevant for me to say that the reply of the Minister is unsatisfactory? May I say that? And may I also go on to say that the terms employed by the Minister, in his reply to Deputy Bourke, were exactly the same as the terms he employed in his reply to me a few days ago. When, on the following morning, an expert, in a letter——

That matter has been ruled out of order.

Well, then, Sir, if it has been ruled out of order, I shall look forward to another opportunity of raising the matter.

Question—"That the words proposed to be deleted stand"—put and declared carried.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.

On behalf of Deputy Keyes I move amendment No. 4:—

In page 8, line 14, to add after the word "business" the words "provided the Minister may on application of any trade union unregistered in Saorstát Eireann but which operated in Saorstát Eireann for a period of not less than ten years prior to October, 1935, extend to that trade union the exemption conferred on a registered trade union by this Act and the Assurance Companies Act, 1909."

The same point arises in amendment No. 7.

The intention of the amendment is to safeguard the interests of some thousands of organised workers who belong to trade unions not at present registered here. These unions are amongst the oldest established in the country, covering various types of workers, such as railwaymen of all grades, woodworkers, printers, vehicle builders, engineers, plumbers, painters, furnishing-trade workers and others. Added to the ordinary trade union benefits, such as strike pay, each of these unions gives friendly benefits such as death benefit, retirement benefit in certain cases, accident benefit in some instances, and in other cases small payments during illness. In one union that I have in mind there is refunded to the member, by way of retirement allowance or bonus when he finally retires from his employment through old age or on pension, a certain proportion of his total contributions to the union. If he dies whilst a member his widow or nearest relative receives a certain payment in proportion to his years of membership of the union. If his wife predeceases him, half the same amount is paid to him. If he should lose his life through accident during his employment or on his way to work, his dependents are entitled to a lump sum payment.

The amendment seeks to preserve to members of this type this kind of benefit. If it is not adopted, then the vested interest which they have created, in some cases by very long membership ranging up to 35 or 40 years will be cancelled forthwith and a very grave and unjustifiable hardship inflicted upon a very deserving body of men. I am informed that the estimated value of the existing benefit to members of such unions would not be less than £1,000,000. It should be stated that this is really not insurance in the ordinary sense of the word. For instance, there is no such procedure as medical examination, or any actuarial processes which apply in the case of the insurance company. The arrangement merely means that the union in its general desire to help its members as far as possible in circumstances in which they are not otherwise protected, pays out these benefits in addition to extending the protection which a trade union normally gives to its members. In no case could the individual concerned get anything like the same benefits for the same contribution from any insurance company. In fact, in the vast majority of cases there is no particular allocation whatever of either the contributions or the funds in respect of these benefits. They are merely in the nature of a bonus, which the member is entitled to receive as a result of the general trade union contribution he pays. They are, however, benefits which are very highly appreciated, and any attempt to interfere with the arrangement would be very keenly resented by those concerned and would result in very serious hardships to many thousands of deserving people and their dependents.

Those who belong to trade unions whose headquarters happen to be in the Free State are left their present rights and privileges. It is presumed that there is no desire to extend less favourable treatment to the other workers concerned who are covered by this amendment. Moreover, the manner in which foreign insurance companies and their shareholders have been protected is surely the strongest possible argument for the acceptance of this amendment, because here no shareholders at all are involved but merely the insured. The type of benefit they get is such as they would not normally get from any insurance company, because they would not subscribe for it. It is in fact a bonus which some unions are able to pay after discharging their normal trade union liabilities to their members. They are in no way in competition with the insurance companies; therefore there is no question of the financial rights or interests of any other existing organisation. I understand that the Executive of the Trade Union Congress has explained the meaning and the effect of this amendment very fully to the Minister and his officials, and I hope he will see his way to accept it, and thereby preserve the very valuable rights of existing members of trade unions not registered in Saorstát Eireann.

The measure as it stands exempts from its scope any business lawfully carried on by trade unions registered in the Saorstát under Acts relating to trade unions. The purpose of the Deputy's amendment, and of certain representations made by the Trade Union Congress, is to ensure that the Minister shall have discretion to grant exemption also to certain bodies which are acting as trade unions but are not registered as such under the Trade Union Acts. I have given the matter consideration, and I think there is a good case to be made, on the lines advanced by the Deputy, for taking such power. If the Deputy will hold his amendment over until the next stage, I will undertake to have tabled for consideration then an amendment which, I think, will have the same effect as his, that is an amendment designed to give the Minister for Industry and Commerce power to grant this exemption to unregistered trade unions in certain conditions and in certain circumstances.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On behalf of Deputies Norton and Murphy, I move amendment No. 5:—

In page 8, line 17, after the figures "1924" to add the following words: "and the issued shares of which company are to an extent not less than two-thirds (in nominal value) thereof and carrying voting rights (whether immediate or to arise in certain future circumstances) in the beneficial ownership of a person who is or of two or more persons all of whom are citizens of Saorstát Eireann."

The wording of this amendment explains it, and I should like to hear from the Minister if he has any objection to accepting it in principle.

I am afraid the purpose of the amendment is not clear. The effect would be merely to put a couple of insurance companies which are registered here, but not owned here as the term is defined in the amendment, into the position of foreign companies. I am not quite sure what difference it would make. The companies concerned, as far as I can see, would be entitled to get licences in accordance with the provisions of the Bill, and the only effect of the amendment would be to ensure that they would go about getting those licences in one manner rather than in another. I think the amendment is unnecessary. The companies are registered here, and, as such, are treated in the Bill as Saorstát companies, but in so far as they carried on business in October, 1935, would be entitled under the provisions of the Bill to apply for a licence in any event.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Bourke

I move amendment No. 6:—

In page 8, before line 18, to insert the words—the expression "national company" means an assurance company registered in Saorstát Eireann under the Companies Acts, 1908 to 1924, and incorporated in Ireland not before the 24th day of April, 1916, and not later than the 7th day of January, 1921, and which for the purposes of this Act save as is otherwise provided shall be a "Saorstát Eireann Company" save that the provisions of paragraph (b) of sub-section (4) of section 12 and the words in paragraph (a) of sub-section (9) of section 12 beginning with the word "and" line 59 and ending with the word "business" line 61 do not apply.

As the Bill stands, and unless it is very seriously amended at this stage, or at a subsequent stage, it will really sound the death-knell of Irish insurance companies. The Irish insurance companies have had a very difficult struggle, and are competing under a very heavy handicap with companies with much greater resources. Though they went through their formative years at a time when restrictions on insurance were much less than they are at present, and when the premiums charged were much higher than they are to-day, the Irish insurance companies had one advantage, and only one advantage, in competing with foreign companies: that they could appeal to the patriotic sense of the Irish people and use the slogan, "support Irish industry." The fact that these companies were giving preference to Irish employees and had invested their money in Irish industries, and so far as possible assisted a native Government and the national outlook generally, made an appeal to the Irish people, and enabled the Irish companies to get business against the very keen competition of the stronger companies. By a system of licensing insurance companies, this Bill will to a great extent, if not completely, do away with that advantage. Once a company is licensed to do business in this country, to all intents and purposes it becomes an Irish company, as no one is going to inquire very far back into his antecedents one way or another. A person henceforward will insure with the company that can offer him the greatest advantages. It is on that basis that insurance will probably be done in future. To that extent Irish companies will suffer by this system of licensing.

Then the partition proposals in this Bill by dividing up the Irish companies will destroy their identity. Once the company has had to submit to this Solomon's judgment, it will be very hard to identify the original company or to know into which particular section these companies have been divided up and stirred about by the Minister's Irish stew of amalgamation. It will be very hard to recognise the parts that will emerge without their original label. Again, everybody who knows anything about business, will recognise that goodwill is a most important item in any business, perhaps even a more important item than capital itself. It is quite a usual thing—and nobody should be more familiar with it than the Minister for Industry and Commerce—to see a particular business house changing hands several times in one generation while the same name remains over the door all the time, for the simple reason that a certain goodwill attaches to that particular name. There is probably no business in the world that is more affected by the factor of goodwill than the insurance business, because it is a very widespread business and touches the interests of a great number of the public. If a company carries out its business in a satisfactory manner and gives satisfaction to the people who are doing business with it, everyone who comes in contact with that company becomes an advertising agent for it. In like manner, if a company does not give satisfaction to its clients, the people who are dissatisfied can do immense injury to that company; and the company that is endeavouring to give satisfaction, once it loses this factor of goodwill, is losing something that is extremely important for its successful working. Under the partition proposals in this Bill that element of goodwill will be completely lost, and the Irish companies to that extent will be the losers, because the great English companies and the foreign companies will still retain their name. Their goodwill will not be affected, whereas the Irish companies will lose whatever prestige they have built up during the last few years.

There is another important point in these partition proposals, namely, that they are going proportionately to increase very greatly the overhead charges of the Irish companies. Anyone who has any knowledge of the business of insurance companies realises that the great difficulty with which they are confronted is to reduce their expense rates. You may start at one end of the problem and by increasing your business, which is a fairly easy thing to do, you do not mind the factor of expense, but by increasing your business in such a way that at the same time you increase your expenses proportionately, you are worse off in the end than at the beginning. If you approach the problem from the other end by reducing expenses you may possibly find that you are reducing your income still more, so that you are still faced with the same dilemma. In the case of companies that are doing both classes of business, their overhead charges are generally distributed between the two branches of the business and if you cut off one branch you will be faced with the position in which the other branch will find it very difficult to maintain its overhead charges. A number of the officials in those companies are supported by salaries paid from both sides of the business. In the same way a great number of offices can only be maintained by reason of the fact that a share of the business is fire and general, and another share of it is life. If you cut off one or other of these classes of business it will mean that various local offices will have to be closed down and the business of that extent will be reduced.

There is another important aspect, which makes it also necessary for the Irish companies to escape from these partition proposals. That is, the fact that every penal clause in this Bill, everything that makes insurance in this country more difficult than in foreign countries, militates to a greater extent against the native Irish insurance companies than against the foreign companies and, to that extent, is a fillip to the foreign companies. Most of the foreign companies do only a small portion of their business in this country, some of them only about 10 per cent. They can afford to lose on their business in this country for a number of years if, by doing so, they know that the Irish company which is being subjected to the same conditions will be driven out of business. The Irish companies, unlike the foreign companies, have no subsidiaries in other countries on which they can depend. If conditions are such that they cannot carry on a profitable business here, the Irish companies will be forced out of business while the foreign companies in competition with them would be prepared to lose a considerable sum of money in order to see that result brought about.

There is another part of the Bill to which I have an amendment down alongside one by Deputy Dillon, which will enable all Saorstát companies that were composite companies before the Bill was introduced to continue as composite companies. I do think that special consideration should be given to those companies that were established here in the period between the 1916 Proclamation and the acceptance of the Treaty in 1922, that is, during the period of the struggle for independence. Most of these companies and societies—I have not included societies in my amendment— were started more from patriotic motives than from any other point of view. They were not started solely as commercial concerns. The money was subscribed in the same spirit by a number of people as that in which they subscribed to the National Loan and it was part of the Articles of Association of these companies that they should invest in Irish industries. At a time when there was very little encouragement or inducement to invest in Irish industries, when there was if anything a certain animus against these industries, it was a very good thing to have institutions that had fairly substantial funds and were prepared to support those industries. Very often from a financial point of view these concerns were not of a type to attract investors. Some of them did carry on to success but a great many of them did not. At all events, these industries, with a more or less Irish-Ireland outlook, got substantial support from these Irish companies. In the same way men who had participated in the national struggle and who were victimised, for one reason or another, found a refuge in these companies as officials, although frequently they might not have been as competent as men who would have been selected solely on grounds of ability or because of their knowledge of the insurance business.

Again, these companies carried on under very considerable handicaps at times. Their directors and high officials were frequently on the run or in jail for political offences. Their head offices were frequently raided and their position was made exceptionally difficult. However, the companies survived that difficult period but then they had to undergo a period equally as difficult, the period of the civil war. Subsequent to that they were plunged into the world-wide depression which meant a big loss on investments. Having survived all these difficulties, it is certainly a hardship that our own Government, a Government which has come into office pledged to carry out a programme of fostering and protecting native industries, should introduce a measure such as this. It is certainly very strange that the death blow for Irish insurance companies should come from a Government organised on these particular lines. The irony of the situation, as I see it, is that it is probably those companies which have done their best to avoid the irregularities which the Minister will probably adduce as a reason for insisting on this partition proposal, which have not utilised their life fund to bolster up their fire accident fund or vice versa, which have kept their accounts separate and tried to carry on in that way—these are the companies which, in my opinion, are going to suffer most. Those companies which have kept their business in such a way that one side has been supported at the expense of another, to the extent of the other portion becoming completely atrophied, will lose nothing by having the diseased limb cut off. That limb was no good to the company, at any rate, as regards the support of overhead charges. Those companies which have tried to keep both limbs solid and sound, which have tried to carry on in a regular way, will find this major operation, as it was described by Deputy Cosgrave, a very serious matter. Those companies have been in the habit of standing on both feet. Both were sound and healthy feet and, if one is cut off, it will be very difficult for them to maintain the top-heavy body which will be left.

No consideration is shown in any portion of this Bill for the shareholders of these companies. Those who subscribed to the capital of those companies did so partly from patriotic motives but that is no reason why their capital should be confiscated in this way. The people who subscribed to the National Loan did not expect to make anything out of it but, when a national Government was established, it immediately repaid that loan. Some consideration should be shown to the people who invested in these companies. Their capital will, to all intents and purposes, be confiscated under this measure if it goes through as designed by the Minister.

The purpose of the amendment, as I read it, is merely to provide that Saorstát composite offices will be entitled to continue both life and non-life business. The larger part of the Deputy's remarks seemed to me to be entirely irrelevant to the amendment. It is quite true that a number of insurance companies were established here by people whose main motives were patriotic, that business was secured for them by the use of the slogan "Support Irish industries" and that that business was given to them for patriotic reasons irrespective of the merits of the policies which these companies were offering. But I cannot quite see what that has to do with this amendment. The slogan "Support Irish industries" is a good one. The great majority of the people who use it are entitled to use it. But if that slogan is used to secure business for a company which is insolvent, if it is used to induce people who are not in a position to get accurate information as to the financial position of a particular enterprise to put their savings into that enterprise, when it is certain they will lose them, it is a dishonest slogan and one that can be used to trap and defraud people. When we come to consider the provisions of this Bill—the first measure dealing with insurance introduced in this Dáil since its establishment—we have got to leave these considerations aside and consider the purely business matters, that must be our first concern. The job of this Dáil is not to make things particularly easy for the insurance companies. Our primary task is to protect the people who have dealings with these companies and see that the average person, desiring for any reason to insure himself, gets a fair deal.

One of the fundamental provisions of this Bill is the section which provides that a company which is carrying on life assurance business must not carry non-life classes of business as well. That is a fundamental provision of the Bill. It is, in our opinion, an essential safeguard for the people who are effecting life assurance. It is a provision which should obviously appear in the first Bill dealing with insurance introduced here. It is, in fact, the law in a number of European countries and, in our opinion, it should be the law here. During the course of the Second Reading debate, I stated the primary reasons which induced us to introduce this provision. Force of circumstances would, I think, compel this Dáil to introduce that provision at some stage and, in our opinion, it is preferable to make the change now than later, when it might be much more difficult.

The Deputy seeks to secure exemption from that general principle for companies which are "national companies," as he defines them. We do not think that that should be done. We think that the considerations which justified the introduction of the principle regarding the division between life and non-life classes of business apply with equal force to those national companies and the principle should also be made applicable to them. The general principle as to effecting that division hardly needs any defence at this stage. As I said, it was discussed here on Second Reading and the Dáil approved of the Bill containing that provision. Since that is so, I think it would be entirely wrong, at this stage, to introduce an amendment which would exempt one class of insurance companies from its application, leaving it to apply to all the others: The amendment on that account cannot be accepted. We think the Dáil should maintain the principle embodied in the Bill—that these two classes of business, which are distinct and separate and which are carried on on separate principles, should be carried on also by separate companies. That is one of the main purposes of the Bill and it would be a fundamental mistake to exclude any class of company from its scope.

I agree that our duty is to see that the Irish insured person gets a square deal from any insurance company with whom he does his business, whether it is a German company, a British company, or an Irish company. However, I do not want this House to be left under the impression that the only people who have to be watched in this manner are Irish companies. I do not know the details of the affairs of all the Irish companies, but any Irish insurance companies of which I have knowledge are solvent companies and have no apology whatever to make to the Minister for Industry and Commerce for engaging in the business in which they are at present engaged. They have carried on their general business, their ordinary branch business, and their industrial business in accordance with the strictest standards of rectitude that have ever been enforced in Great Britain or elsewhere. There may be companies in this country of which the Minister has a more intimate knowledge than I have to which that would not apply. The companies which I know of have set for themselves a higher standard than many foreign companies which are at present operating in this country. We ought to get clear on that, because it is not right at this stage, or at any other stage of this debate, that a note should creep in that Irish companies are insolvent wrecks and that the only companies operating here deserving of the name of insurance companies are British or Continental companies because that is not true.

Nobody suggested it.

There are more ways of killing a cat than by choking it with a pound of butter. There are ways of suggesting it. We are told that our concern is to watch over the interests of insured persons. It certainly is, but let nobody draw from that the conclusion that anybody who transacts his business with Irish companies requires the vigilance of the State to protect him. I want to make it perfectly clear that, with regard to British, German, and Irish companies, there are two classes, the solvent and the insolvent companies. It is a gross injustice to the solvent companies that they should be lumped with the insolvent companies, whether they are in Ireland, in England or in Germany. The Minister says he cannot entertain this amendment because the principle was discussed on the Second Stage, and the House having adopted the Bill on the Second Stage, he cannot see his way to remove this part of the Bill now. The Minister never, at any stage, gave any adequate reason whatever for divorcing the fire and general business from the ordinary life and industrial business. What Deputy Bourke has said about increasing the overhead charges, and thus causing great embarrassment to Irish companies, is perfectly true. It is the company which has submitted itself to the rules with the strictest propriety, by maintaining two separate funds, and maintaining both branches of its business in a strictly healthy condition, is to suffer most because of this change. The ones that have not been complying with the regulations laid down are going to suffer nothing from this new departure, because they abandoned that part of their business. So that instead of hurting them this new departure will only relieve them from embarrassment. I think I have heard at no stage of this Bill any adequate reason advanced for the course suggested by the Minister. The Minister says that this division is of universal practice on the Continent of Europe. I am not in a position to confirm or to controvert that statement. All I know is that it is not a universal practice in Great Britain, and I do not believe it is a universal practice in the United States of America. These are the two countries in the world at present which have the most solvent insurance institutions. They are the two great countries whose insurance companies are receiving risks from the four corners of the earth.

The insurance companies of most other countries of the world are exclusively national, except in so far as the German companies specialise in the business of reinsurance, so that that argument does not carry much weight. If we go by the experience of the world we will find that the experience of the world is against the proposals in this Bill. No adequate reason has ever been advanced for imposing this divorcement upon Irish companies or upon British companies in so far as they operate in the Saorstát. If this is persisted in I feel that we are going to do insurance business in this country a very great injury. Remember, if we do the insurance business as a whole serious injury, it is only the very strongest and biggest of the companies that are going to survive. The big companies are provided for in this Bill. They will be the British companies and foreign companies that can afford to get hard knocks and survive them. The solvent Irish companies, which have kept the claims of their policy-holders foremost before their minds, are the ones that are going to feel the hard knocks most. It is quite likely that some of them may go to the wall, and we will be told, when they do go to the wall, as we were told before on other matters, that you cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs, and that these are a couple of eggs that have been broken in the course of carrying order and rectitude into the insurance business in this country.

The Minister has defended the general principle. Would he now explain its special application? The section which provides for the granting of temporary licences for two kinds of insurance in the Saorstát says, in (b) (4) of Section 12, that the Minister may grant such licence if, but only if, he is satisfied that—

"such licence is required by such company only pending the amalgamation of such company with one or more other Saorstát Eireann companies and the transfer of the said other assurance business of such company to some other Saorstát Eireann company."

So far as I can understand that section, it provides that the Saorstát insurance company which is in the process of shedding its fire and general business under the provisions of this Bill must dispose of it to a Saorstát company.

Now I come to sub-section (7) of this Section 12, dealing with British or other foreign companies operating in this country for a licence under this Bill to carry on both classes of business, and I find the Minister—

"may grant such application if he is satisfied that such company complies with the conditions set forth in whichever of the said two next preceding sub-sections applies to such application, and that such licence is required by such company only pending the completion of arrangements for the transfer of the assurance business or businesses to which the application relates to some other assurance company or companies licensed under this Act to carry on such business or businesses."

So that it would appear that an Irish company finding itself under the obligation to dispose of its general business is confined to disposing of it to another Saorstát company. Whereas the British company requiring to dispose of its business can dispose of it either to a Saorstát company or to a foreign company licensed under this Bill. We can all foresee what is to happen. The British companies can transfer all their business to one company operating in that way, and they will probably do it by negotiations amongst themselves and do it on an agreed basis. The Saorstát companies cannot do that. There are only five such companies in this country, and any one of them which gets the wink from the Minister for Industry and Commerce to stand out can effectively collar the general business of all four others, and that company can do that at its own price. In many cases it may mean that solvent Irish companies will have to part with their fire and general business for virtually nothing at all. I want to ask the Minister why it is that this differentiation is made between the methods whereby a Saorstát Eireann company and a foreign company may dispose of that part of their business of which this Bill requires them to divest themselves.

I suggest that we deal with that aspect of the matter on Section 12, when we come to it.

If the Minister is going to take up the attitude that he resents inquiry and discussion——

I am merely suggesting that we should put things in their proper places. I suggest that these matters will more properly arise on Section 12 when we reach it.

The general question of dividing the insurance business has arisen on the definition section, and there are certain points that it is necessary to have cleared up. The first Committee Stage was taken for the purpose of allowing the Minister to reprint the Bill and include certain Government amendments, and there are still certain points that are rather obscure. I suggest that it will help the discussion materially if the points now raised by the Opposition are answered by the Minister, and if, having explained any blatant or patent obscurities, he adds that he wishes to postpone the remainder of the discussion on the point as clarified by his statement, then the Opposition will be very glad to accommodate him. Perhaps he will explain now the difference between the method prescribed for the foreign company of disposing of one half of its business and the method prescribed for the Irish company.

I would much prefer to deal with that aspect of the question when we come to Section 12, which is the relevant section.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.
Question proposed: "That Section 3 stand part of the Bill."

On the section, I want to draw the Minister's attention to the definition of the word "policy" that appears in the Bill at the foot of page 7. The definition as it stands is extremely comprehensive and would almost, if not quite, go to the point of saying that you can have a policy of assurance effected by word of mouth or even by conduct; in fact, the definition goes so far as to say that you can have such a policy provided the evidence is in some document. It was my intention to put down an amendment to this definition, but, owing to the rush, it was not in time. I am drawing the Minister's attention to this matter now in order that he may have it examined. In the Act of 1909 there is no comprehensive definition of the expression "policy of assurance." There are a number of definitions of various kinds of policies, such as policy on human life, and that as defined in Section 30, paragraph (a) of the 1909 Act, and in paragraph (b) there is also something else which is deemed to be included in the expression "policy." How do these two definitions fit in with the definition in this Bill? That is one point.

The second point is this, and it is the real fundamental point. I submit to the Minister that the complete terms of the contract of assurance, whatever that may be, should be within the four walls of the document itself; that the document which constitutes a policy of assurance, whether on life or in connection with any other class of insurance should speak for itself, and both the policy-holder and the company issuing the policy should be in a position to determine their respective rights and liabilities by reference only to the document itself. The definition clause here would enable people to bring in acts or conduct or words spoken prior to the making of the alleged contract of assurance, or even subsequent to the contract, because the definition of "policy" provides that it will include a document which is evidence of a contract of assurance made verbally or arising from conduct.

I find it a little difficult to understand the necessity for such a wide definition of "policy" there, and I submit that the Minister ought to adopt the definition of "policy" that is in the Stamp Act. It is the definition used for revenue purposes. It is a very simple definition and would include everything that ought to be included. I cannot see any reason why acts of the parties not put into writing at the time of the making of a contract of assurance should in any way affect the interpretation of the contract or the rights and liabilities of the parties to the contract. Neither do I see any reason why the conduct of the parties should be considered relevant in any way to a contract which ought to be entirely in writing. Contracts of assurance for small or great sums are of importance to the parties concerned and it is of paramount importance that the policy-holder should know what his rights and liabilities are. He can only know that by looking at what is in writing. If the law ultimately is determined by this House to be that the conduct of the parties or something said or done prior to or subsequent to the making of the contract is taken into consideration then an element of grave uncertainty will be introduced. Will the Minister give us the reason why these words were brought into the definition of the word "policy"?

Deputy Costello's point, I take it, is mainly directed against the words "or acts or words".

"...made verbally or arising from conduct".

The definition of "policy" includes a document which is evidence of a contract of assurance made verbally or arising from conduct. The point at which evidence other than a document comes in is in the second line, in the words "or acts or words". I am not disposed to quarrel with the Deputy when he states that the definition is fairly wide. It is wide. There may be considerations which justify having a wide definition such as is here. I am, however, in possession of an entirely open mind on the point. It is, perhaps, not unusual, if very rare, to have insurance effected by means of a conversation, verbally, even on occasion by a telephone communication. Whether we should have that verbal contract brought within the definition of the word "policy" here is a very doubtful point and I am disposed to think that on the balance it is better not to have it and to keep the evidence of the existence of the policy confined to a document, as the Deputy suggests.

Perhaps if the Deputy would leave the matter over until the next stage, and if he cares to introduce another amendment then, I will undertake to give consideration to whatever definition he suggests. In the meantime I will myself be examining the possibility of contracting the definition. I am anxious to have as little ambiguity as possible, and particularly in this section of the Bill where definitions are set out. On that account my sympathies are entirely with his point of view to have the words "or acts or words" taken out. I will be disposed, therefore, to consider sympathetically whatever amendment is suggested in that respect.

I am obliged to the Minister for his consideration of the points I have put forward. I would like him, in regard to the matters I have mentioned, to consider, having regard to any advice that he may get from his legal advisers, whether it would be advisable to make an expressed prohibition against any contract of insurance unless it is in writing. There is an old saying that it is better for the law to be certain than to be just. Therefore, I think that the liabilities and rights of parties to any alleged contract of assurance should be evidenced by a document. It is much better for the parties to it that that should be so. I will adopt the Minister's suggestion.

Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 8 and 12 deal with the laying on the Table, and with the annulment or approval of regulations. Amendment No. 12 is somewhat more detailed than amendment No. 8. I suggest that amendments Nos. 8 and 12 might be debated together. Separate decisions can be given if claimed.

I move amendment No. 8:—

At the end of the section to add the words "but no regulation made by the Minister shall become operative unless and until it is laid before, and approved by, Dáil Eireann."

The purpose of Section 8 is to reestablish, in regard to this Bill, the practice which is in process of being slowly whittled away. Originally Parliament did not delegate its functions to make law to anybody, but with the growing complexity of legislation Parliament has delegated certain of its duties to administrative Departments of Government for the purpose of clearing up ambiguities which may have been left in an Act as it left the Oireachtas, or of providing for any unforeseen contingencies in accordance with the general principle underlying the Act of Parliament. But Parliament has never gone so far as to divest itself of all authority in regard to such regulations. Originally it required that such regulations would lie on the Table and be recommended by Ministers to the House within a given time, and that the House would then approve of them or reject them. If the House approved of them, nothing done under them to the date that the House rejected them would be held subsequently to be invalid. The next stage was that the bureaucratic machine imposed upon Parliament a scheme whereby when any such regulations were laid upon the Table they, within a given time, became law unless a resolution was moved by somebody in the Parliament to reject the regulations. We are at that stage now. This Bill proposes to go a step further. Section 5 says that:

The Minister may by order make regulations in relation to any matter or thing referred to in this Act as prescribed or to be prescribed, and for the prescription of which no other provision is made by this Act.

I want to reintroduce the principle that such regulations must lie upon the Table and get the approval of Parliament. As my amendment stands, I require the Minister to lay every regulation on the Table of the House, and to provide that the regulation will not become operative unless the House has adopted it. That is to go back to the pure doctrine of parliamentary government. But if the Minister indicates his readiness to follow the existing practice, that is, to leave the regulations made under this Bill on the Table for 21 days and to allow them to become law in the event of no resolution being passed rejecting them, I would be prepared to accept that compromise.

Whatever case the Deputy may have had for moving similar amendments to other Bills, I think he has no case here. The only matters to be prescribed under this Bill are matters of form and procedure. If the Deputy examines the Bill carefully he will find that there is nothing in the Bill to be prescribed which can in any sense be deemed to be a delegation of legislative powers from the Dáil to the Minister. In Section 3 the actuary's qualifications are to be prescribed; in Section 11, the form and manner of applications for assurance licences and the fees payable; in Section 16, the form of assurance licence; in Section 19 the form and manner of the application for the alteration or revocation of assurance licences; in Section 63 the form of consent for a transfer from one company to another; in Section 67 the fee to be paid in reference to disputes. These are all matters of administration only, and it is not necessary, I think, to adopt this procedure of having regulations laid before the Dáil, and, therefore, capable of being anulled here. There is nothing in this Bill which confers on the Minister any wide powers to act by regulation. I am glad the Deputy has been making up the history of the tendency to delegate powers. I presume that he has been reading the recently published report of the British Committee on the subject.

I have been reading the recently published letter of Messrs. Morgan on the question of bureaucracy, but I shall pass away from that. I will certainly challenge a division on this in order to avoid establishing a precedent. If the Minister's remarks were well founded, and that it were true that nothing but purely administrative matters arise in connection with this section, I would still oppose it, because it is introduced here by the bureaucratic mind in order to establish a precedent on which it will be able to build a further edifice of bureaucracy, designed to take away from this House, still more and more, its authority.

I can hear the Minister, or his successor, inspired by the bureaucracy behind them saying, in connection with some Bill, "but there is a provision in the Insurance Bill giving the right to make regulations without any obligation of laying them on the Table; there is nothing new in this procedure." I can imagine the then occupant of the Minister's office expressing amazement at some protests against a Bill giving general power to the bureaucrats to make law by regulation, because he will say "we got that power in the Insurance Bill and no harmful results ensued." The Minister says that these are purely administrative matters. There is the regulation prescribing the form of licence. Does that include the conditions?

The form.

Can that be extended to include the conditions? I think it can.

It cannot.

The Minister now says that it cannot. I can very well imagine that if the Minister wanted to include conditions, over and above the conditions envisaged by the Bill, they might be worked in within this power of prescribing the form. But the Minister is entitled to prescribe the fees. Let us suppose that the Minister wants to stop any additional licence being issued hereafter, is there anything to prevent him from prescribing a fee of £1,000,000? That is not impossible. I am sorry that there is no representative on the Labour Benches at the moment. I know a trade union which prescribes a fee of £30 before you can be registered a member of it, not, I agree, in order to get the £30, but in order to prevent persons registering that it does not want admitted to that particular craft.

Suppose an insurance company wants to admit no one else into the business, why not prescribe a fee of £1,000,000 on any application for a licence? That would make the insurance business a closed borough. The Minister might prescribe by regulation anything he desires. I do not know whether the process of reductio ad absurdum is a good method of making the House understand the position. There is no reason why the Minister should not prescribe that the actuary should be a man of red beard and white eyebrows. The Minister could prescribe certain professional qualifications which would point out the individual he wanted, and this House would have no particular right in the matter at all, because the Minister would have the right to make these orders without submitting them to the House. The Minister might reply that the matter could be raised on his Estimate. Yes, but that would be a year or nine months after the regulations came into force, and after the man with the red beard and the white eyebrows had got the job and had been doing what the Minister wanted him to do from the date of his appointment.

I would indicate to the Minister another objection to this provision in this way. The devil we know is bad enough but the devil we do not know might be much worse. After all, other people who may be the Minister's successors will have to administer this Bill. The Minister gives me no confidence whatever, but his successors might command less of my confidence. I strongly object to any such powers being put in the Minister's hands. I urge upon the Minister that he should not make himself responsible for advising this House to abandon its right to pass judgment upon any regulation he makes affecting legislative rights of the citizens of this country. That is what he is asking us to do here. He is not entitled to get powers of this kind. I do not see why he should be entitled to supersede the powers of the Oireachtas. I do not see why he should claim powers to make regulations in regard to anything and everything he likes. The Minister is trying to get complete and irrevocable control over Irish insurance for all time. That means State socialism, and the Minister is certainly moving in that direction. He has tried to get these powers over flour, over factories, and over several industries. In my opinion he is trying to get power by regulations over Irish insurance business and to control that business for all time. I object to this most barefaced effort which the Minister is making to secure that power.

This section does not set a new precedent, nor is Deputy Dillon a pioneer defending democracy against the exercise of such powers. If he reads the British Blue Book recently issued, he will see that this procedure has been followed since the time of Henry VIII.

It has long been the policy of the Minister to defend himself by covering himself with the folds of the flag of Cumann na nGaedheal, but this is the first time I have seen him trying to shelter himself under the folds of the Union Jack. Are we to tolerate every crime because a precedent is set for it by the British Government?

This is not a precedent; that is all I say.

I repeat the argument that because the Minister has wrapped the Union Jack round him, and is proposing that we should follow British policy, I am not prepared to trust him.

I strongly support the amendment, and I do so on the general principle that Deputy Dillon has enunciated. I do not intend at this stage to enter into the Government's tendency towards bureaucracy as evidenced in the last few years. I hope at an early stage to give the House an opportunity of discussing these matters with appropriate procedure. But my point of view is that the Bill is bad, as well on general principles as in its tendency towards bureaucracy. I do not see why the ordinary procedure of laying regulations before the House cannot be adopted here.

What regulations?

I take Section 11. The Minister apparently overlooked that section when he told the House that matters prescribed under Section 11 are merely matters of form. These matters of form may involve people in criminal proceedings, and that certainly is not a matter of form. Subsection (2) of Section 11 provides not merely that the Minister may prescribe the form and manner in which application for an insurance licence should be made, but should state the class or classes of assurance business which the assurance company making such application proposes to carry on, together with such other particulars as may be prescribed.

By regulations.

Precisely, by these very regulations which, unless the Minister changes his position, will enable him to put a complete catechism to any person or company applying for such insurance licence. He may ask any questions, relevant or irrelevant to the subject matter of the licence, and any replies that may possibly be misleading may be the subject matter of criminal proceedings. Anything which may lead to criminal proceedings is, in my submission, no formality. These are very wide powers that the Minister proposes to take. He does not propose the form in which the application for a State licence must be made or the class of information that may be given on application. He proposes to give himself power to ask any questions, whether about the colour of the eyes of the employees or any other notion that the Minister may take into his head. If any person refuses to give information as to the colour of the eyes, or gives any information that may be misleading, that person shall be guilty of a criminal offence. As I say, anything that leads to criminal proceedings is no formality. Deputy Dillon already drew attention to the fact that by subsection (7) the Minister may prescribe the fee to be charged, and that the due payment of such fee shall be a condition precedent to the entertainment of the application by the Minister. The very fact that the Minister has power to prescribe the fee——

With the consent of the Minister for Finance, in whom Deputy Bourke has so much confidence.

Deputy Bourke may have more confidence in the Minister for Finance than in the Minister for Industry and Commerce, but I have no confidence in either. They are both engaged in the same conspiracy.

The Deputy's language is very flattering.

Whether the Minister likes that kind of flattery or not, the fact remains that he has taken power to prescribe the fee without so far having given any indication whatever as to what the amount of the fee will be. I propose to raise that matter when we come to Section 11. I only touch on it now because it is relevant to this discussion. We do not know what the amount of the fee is that may be prescribed. It may be prohibitive and of such a nature that only very wealthy companies could afford to pay it, but it is a condition precedent to the granting of the licence. I think the people of this country are entitled, through their representatives in this Dáil, to protest against such a position as that. Once this section is passed there is no machinery in the Dáil for the introduction of a Private Bill by which the amount of the licence duty charged by the Minister could be reduced or effectively reduced.

I submit that these are very cogent reasons why the normal and proper procedure, in our view, should be followed under this section and the regulations to be made by the Minister be placed on the Table of this House, where, if they require it, they may be criticised or, if necessary, set aside, but where, at least, they should be made public. There is no obligation, as things stand at present, to make these regulations public. They may be made and, like some regulations which have been made by Departments, nobody may know anything about them until they find themselves prosecuted under their provisions.

They can only be prosecuted for making false statements on the prescribed form, and, therefore, before there could be any prosecution there must be at least knowledge.

They may be misleading without being false.

They must be on the prescribed form.

A person may be dragged before a district justice for something he has stated on a prescribed form which is misleading in the view of the Minister. He may be dragged before a district justice without having heard of it.

The Deputy suggested that somebody could be prosecuted under regulations the existence of which he had not heard of. I say they must be made on the prescribed form and presented to the Department in the prescribed manner before any question of prosecution could arise.

Is that the only argument the Minister is able to give in favour of the retention of these powers? Can he answer any of the arguments put forward by Deputy Dillon or myself?

I do not think I ever introduced a Bill here in which I asked for less powers in respect of the making of regulations than under this Bill.

Is that a reason why you should get these powers?

They are purely matters of administration.

I say they are not. Are we to take it that the Minister is not going to give any reasons?

I am asking the Dáil to say that it does not want to waste time discussing on some sections of the Bill such matters as the form and the manner in which an application of one kind or another shall be made; to say that these things can be done by administrative regulations, as they have been done since the time of Henry VIII and are done at present by all Parliaments in all countries. I am quite certain that, despite the Deputy's lack of confidence in the integrity of the present Minister for Industry and Commerce, he will have at least sufficient wisdom to see that he does not use these powers for the purpose of imposing upon any citizen an obligation which that citizen is unable to carry out.

I wish to press the matter. As is well known, the Minister is a past master at the art of making vague, general statements. He has made one of them now—that Parliaments in all parts of the world from the time of Henry VIII did this sort of thing. I put it to the Minister that he had not directed his attention to this fact when he told us that he did not wish the House to waste time in discussing matters of form. Surely, if he does not accept Deputy Dillon's amendment, he ought at least to accept the suggestions contained in amendment No. 12—that these regulations come into force automatically unless they are set aside subsequently by a motion in the House. Surely, that is a matter that ought to commend itself to the Minister, if his only reason for not wishing to concede what Deputy Dillon or the mover of the other amendment seeks is to ask the House not to waste time on matters of form. The House will not waste any time on matters of form. If any of these regulations which are made seriously affect companies carrying on business, it ought to be within the right of a Deputy to direct public attention to these matters by discussion in the Dáil. If this power is taken by the Minister, there will be no opportunity of directing public attention other than the method I have indicated.

I observe that we have moved out into the continent of Europe. We are told that not only has the British House of Commons done this, but every Parliament in Europe. I often thought the Minister had a good deal of affinity with Hitler.

He has no Parliament sitting.

That is apparently what the Minister was forgetting—that the countries to which he turns for support are countries which are progressing towards the happy day when there is no Parliament. Can it be possible that this suggestion has arisen out of the Minister's sub-conscious mind, and that he is thinking that the happy day might dawn here when there will be no Parliament, no obligation to answer awkward questions? I submit that that is what is at the back of this whole proposal. The Minister does not want to be bothered by Parliaments. He thinks it is waste of time to discuss matters of this kind in a democratic Parliament; that it ought to be done by regulation by intelligent bureaucrats such as he represents. We take a different view. We believe that you, Sir, have some useful function, that the Chair is valuable. We believe that the institutions for which we stand are worth something. The Minister does not share our view. We invite the members of the Fianna Fáil Party to go into the Division Lobby and endorse the Minister's pious hope that the methods of Hitler and Mussolini may be given free play here.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 14; Níl, 38.

  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.


  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Davin, William.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Doyle and Coburn; Níl: Deputies Little and Smith.
Amendment declared lost.
Section 5 put and agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 9, 10 and 11 propose the setting up of a Fund for the Compensation or Pension of assurance employees. Amendments Nos. 24 (d), 36 (f), 77, 78 and 80 also deal with the question of compensation. As duplication does not make for orderly debate, I suggest that the wide principle of compensation might be decided on amendment No. 9. The decision on amendment No. 9 should govern amendments Nos. 10, 11, 24 (d) and 36 (f). Decisions might be taken on amendments Nos. 77, 78 and 80 without debate later on. Some of those amendments are really subsidiary to amendments Nos. 9, 10 and 11, which stand in the name of Deputy Fionan Lynch.


The following amendments were on the Order Paper:—

9. Before Section 6 to insert a new section as follows—

(1) The Minister shall keep a separate fund (in this Act referred to as the Fund) to be called and known as the Assurance Employees' Compensation and Pension Fund and shall maintain and manage such fund in accordance with this Act.

(2) There shall be paid into the fund—

(a) all fees payable by agents under the provisions of this Act; and

(b) all moneys payable by foreign companies into the fund under the provisions of this Act.

(3) All compensation and pensions payable under this Act shall be paid out of the fund.

10. Before Section 6 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) Any sums standing to the credit of the Fund which are not required to meet current expenditure shall be transferred to the Minister for Finance and by him credited to an account (in this Act referred to as the Account) to be called and known as the Assurance Employees' Compensation and Pensions Investment Account.

(2) Any sums standing to the credit of the Account shall be invested and kept invested at the discretion of the Minister for Finance on behalf of the Fund in all or any of the following ways, that is to say, in the purchase of any stock, fund or security in which trustees are authorised by Section 18 of the Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1922 (No. 2 of 1922) to invest trust funds, or in the purchase of any stocks, shares or securities the principal and interest of which are guaranteed under statutory authority by the Government of Saorstát Eireann, and any interest received from such investment shall be credited to the Account.

(3) If at any time the moneys in the Fund are insufficient to meet current liabilities the Minister for Finance shall out of the Account issue to the Fund such sums as may be required for the purpose of discharging such liabilities.

11. Before Section 6 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) The accounts of the fund shall be kept in such form as the Minister, with the approval of the Minister for Finance, shall approve or direct.

(2) The accounts of the Account shall be kept in such form as the Minister for Finance shall approve or direct.

(3) Within one year after the expiration of every year of account, the accounts kept in pursuance of this section for that year shall be submitted for audit to the Comptroller and Auditor-General, and when examined and certified by him shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

Mr. Lynch

I move amendment No. 9. Amendments Nos. 9, 10 and 11 really form one amendment, and they would, if accepted, be Sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Act. The object of these amendments is to provide a fund which will be available for the payment of compensation to employees of Irish insurance companies who may become or who almost certainly will become redundant as a result of the Bill becoming law. I hold that the setting up of a fund as provided for here is the only practical way of providing for the compensation of those employees. Amendment No. 9 provides for the moneys which will come into the fund, those moneys to come from licence fees to be paid by agents, and a contribution to the fund from the life income of ordinary industrial or foreign insurance companies. The Minister has said, and it has been reiterated from all sides of the House, that the object of the Bill itself is to secure policy holders—to secure better benefits for them if possible, and at any rate to see that the investments they make when they take out policies will be safeguarded. The only way by which you can increase the benefits that Irish companies will give is by a reduction of their overhead expenses —their ratio of expenses, as it is called. The ratio of expenses of the Irish companies is naturally much higher at present than that of the English or foreign companies which are far longer in existence. In the early stages of those foreign companies their ratio of expenses was probably at least as high as the present ratio of the Irish companies. The decreasing of the ratio of expenses of the Irish companies will obviously necessitate a reduction in staffs. There is no other way that I can see by which the ratio of expenses will be reduced, and it is desirable that it should be reduced by about 15 per cent. to 20 per cent.

At the present moment, I understand there are about 1,500 whole-time employees of the Irish companies. If the amalgamation proposed in this Bill is carried through, in about five or six years' time that number should be reduced to something between 500 and 600. That will mean that something in the neighbourhood of 1,000 persons, who are now engaged in the insurance business in the employment of the Irish offices, will become redundant. The Bill makes no provision whatever for these employees. There is no provision made for them by way of compensation or anything of that kind. Now, the fund, as I have said, is made up from two sources. I have no doubt that the agents of the companies will gladly pay a licence fee towards that fund, because of the benefits that will accrue to them from it. Apart from making provision for compensation, Section 9 provides that this fund should also form a permanent superannuation fund for insurance employees. I take it also that the contribution from the foreign companies—that is, 2½ per cent. of the gross premium income from life and industrial assurance—will be strongly opposed. I think, however, when we are dealing with insurance here, that it would be just to give the Irish companies that measure of a handicap from their foreign competitors.

I have already said that these foreign companies have been in existence for a long time and that their ratio of expenses, with huge permanent incomes, is considerably lower than that of the Irish companies, and I think that they could very well afford this 2½ per cent. contribution to these agents and insurance employees without in any way passing it on to the policy-holders. As it is, with these companies there is a very great variation in the ratio of expenses. For instance, for the year 1934, the ratio of expenses of the Prudential was 23.34; of the Pearl, 31.04; and of the Refuge, 34.68. These are three of the biggest companies operating here, and that shows that there was a difference of 11 per cent. between two of these-companies in their ratio of expenses, and yet the benefits to the policy-holders were identical in all the cases. I might say, that they are all identical in this, too, that, whereas these companies, operating in this country, pay no bonus to their policy-holders here, they do pay a bonus to their policy-holders in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The policy-holders in this country pay exactly in accordance with the same tables as the policy-holders across the Channel and in Northern Ireland, but these companies do not treat their Saorstát policy-holders as equitably as they treat their policy-holders elsewhere. I think that, in those circumstances, and especially in view of that differentiation in the manner in which they treat their Saorstát policy-holders, it would be quite legitimate to tax them to the extent of the 2½ per cent. proposed in this amendment of mine, or in a later amendment, so that they may make that contribution to this fund which will provide for compensation for those persons who will lose their employment if and when this measure becomes law.

Deputy Lynch, evidently, is trying to do more than kill two birds with one stone with this series of amendments of his. Evidently he is trying to kill a whole flock of birds, but I am not quite sure which particular bird he is most anxious to get. He is proposing that we should set up a fund, the primary purpose of which is to provide pensions or compensation for employees of insurance companies, and he is proposing to constitute that fund by taxing the premium income of foreign companies and instituting a scheme for the registration of insurance agents. If I may suggest a doubt concerning his main purpose, I do so because I think he is less interested in setting up the fund than in the manner of constituting it, and that the tax on the income of the foreign companies, or the institution of a register of agents, is probably the principal objective at which he is aiming. I do not think we should provide, in this Bill, a fund under State control for the payment of pensions to persons employed in the insurance industry, any more than we have any such fund for the payment of pensions to persons employed in the transport industry or any other industry in respect of which as good a case, if not a better case, could be made out for the inauguration of a pension scheme. Neither do I think that we should provide in this Bill provisions for the compensation of any persons, employed by an insurance company, who may become disemployed in consequence of an amalgamation scheme approved by the Minister under Part V of the Bill.

There may, or there may not, be an amalgamation scheme—I think there will be—but if so I think the question of the disposal of the staffs of the amalgamating companies should be considered then, and not now. It may be considered preferable to deal with the problem of redundant staffs otherwise than by the payment of compensation in cash. In any event, I do not think we should impose, as the Deputy suggests in another amendment, upon the amalgamating companies a statutory obligation to provide that compensation in cash, because of the nature of employment in the insurance industry and the difficulties that might arise in consequence. We have had this question of the institution of a register of agents considered here before, and representations have been made to me by parties interested in the institution of such a scheme. These parties, however, in my opinion, have consistently refused to face up to the main difficulties that arise in that connection, and the principal objection to it is the difficulty which the Minister for Industry and Commerce, under any circumstances, would have in determining who should or should not be entitled to practise as an insurance agent. Neither do I think should we have imposed by this Bill a tax on the premiums of foreign companies. If there is any reason, other than an insurance reason, for that tax, then it should be imposed by a different kind of measure altogether. There is no insurance reason for it in my opinion.

If it were considered good policy to prevent the operation here of foreign insurance companies, the Bill would have so provided, but, having decided that it is not possible in present circumstances to prohibit foreign insurance companies from carrying on business here, I do not think we should create that position by roundabout methods; by the introduction in the Bill of provisions applying to foreign companies which would make it extremely improbable that they would, if not impossible for them to, carry on. We have decided that it is desirable in present circumstances to allow foreign companies to continue to do insurance business here. If that point of view is accepted by the Dáil, then I think the Dáil must logically accept the consequential view, that they should not be subject to any differential tax or restrictions which would impose obligations on them that did not apply to other persons engaged in insurance business, in consequence of which they might decide not to carry on, or which might so operate as to make it impossible for them to do so. I am, therefore, opposed to the Deputy's proposal on all three points. I do not think we should constitute such a fund, and even if we had a different attitude in this respect, and decided that such a fund should be created, I do not think it should be constituted by the methods which the Deputy suggests. The setting up of an insurance agent register would be so difficult as to make it foolish to attempt it and probably in the circumstances arising if it were established we would have all sorts of allegations as to the manner in which the Minister exercised these powers which the Deputy proposes should be conferred upon him. Certainly it would be impossible for the Minister to carry out the Deputy's proposal completely without very great difficulty indeed. Neither should we adopt the Deputy's suggestion of a tax of 2½ per cent. on the premiums of foreign companies.

Therefore, I am in the position that I must resist the amendment. May I say that in doing so I have given considerable attention to the redundancy in insurance employment which exists at the present time. As I pointed out during the course of the Second Reading discussion, there are too many people trying to get employment in the insurance industry, and any improvement in the organisation of the industry is bound to result in certain redundancy of staff. I do not think that that surplus staff need constitute an insoluble problem. It would be a problem for a time, but would then disappear. There are various ways of dealing with that problem, but I do not think we should commit ourselves concerning it on this Bill in the manner the Deputy suggests by the payment of compensation in cash. I think there are preferable ways of dealing with it, and that we can consider the matter more satisfactorily when proposals for amalgamation actually arise, and when the details are under consideration. At that period, as I indicated in the past, it would be my intention that employees of the amalgamating company would be fairly dealt with.

It is very interesting to hear the Minister when he reiterates the fact that he and his Government are committed to the principle that foreign companies can carry on their business here without differentiation between them and Irish companies. It is also interesting to know that he failed to appreciate the case put up on behalf of a register of agents. I submit that has nothing to do with the series of amendments we are discussing, because while the Ceann Comhairle asked the House to consider the principle of compensation, the Minister carefully refrained, in any portion of his speech, from touching in any way on the principle of whether or not employees in an insurance company, whether British or foreign, should be compensated if they were deprived of their livelihood as a result of the operation of this Bill. Personally, I am against the principle of a register of agents. But I submit that has nothing to do with the principle of compensation, of which I am in favour. May I remind the Minister that on the Second Reading of this Bill he made this statement:

"And it is my intention that persons who are dependent for their livelihood on insurance employment and are affected by this measure will be fairly dealt with."

He prefaced that statement by the remark that much of the criticism of the Insurance Bill then being discussed had centred around the question of staff and he gave the assurance I have just quoted. The whole object of this series of amendments which we are discussing is to ensure that by some means or other these employees will be, as the Minister said, fairly dealt with. I take it that the scheme put forward by Deputy Fionan Lynch is not one to which he is particularly wedded, but that he is wedded to the principle that the employees should be compensated in some way. The Deputy merely suggested that as a way in which it could be achieved. It would appear that all Parties take the view stated in the House on the Second Reading, and are wedded to the principle of compensation. The Minister said that the employees would be fairly dealt with. To-day, when discussing this and the other amendments with which we are dealing, he dealt with details, referring to the register of agents, a tax on foreign companies, and every other point he could think of, but he never once mentioned the principle of compensation. He did say that there might or might not be an amalgamation scheme between the Irish companies, and that if there was he would see that the redundant employees were fairly dealt with, or words to that effect. That was the only contribution I have been able to extract from the statement he made, and he prefaced it by saying that there might or might not be amalgamation.

Surely the matter does not arise unless there is amalgamation?

Supposing there is amalgamation, how will it ever arise here?

Not necessarily.

Exactly. We will have no control.

I do not understand the Minister's point, that it will never arise. Supposing amalgamation is not possible, will there not be far more employees put out, I suggest, than by the provisions of the Bill? If amalgamation does not arise what is going to happen to the companies? Are they to be refused a licence and the whole lot put out? The Minister knows far better than I do what the views of the Irish companies are on amalgamation, and surely he cannot avoid the principle being discussed by a mere passing reference to amalgamation. Is he or is he not going to carry out the promise made on the Second Reading, that persons dependent for their livelihood on insurance employment who are affected by this measure will be fairly dealt with? If he is, how is he going to carry that out? We have had a Second Reading, and a Committee Stage, and we are now at a further Committee Stage, and so far there is no indication from the Government of their intentions with regard to the employees.

I am surprised to hear the Minister express the view that there is very little likelihood of a redundancy arising from the passage of this measure.

I said quite the contrary, that there is redundancy at present.

I would be more surprised if I read in the daily newspapers a statement by the Minister that there was not a necessity for making provision for the payment of compensation. I should like the Minister to carry his mind back to the period when the railway amalgamation policy was before the House during the life of the last Government, and during the life of this Government when the policy of amalgamation of national health societies was brought forward by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. Then, as a result of a general expression of opinion from all Parties represented in this House, it was agreed that reasonable compensation should be provided for those who lost their employment as a result of the passage of these measures. I have been given information which I believe to be correct that in one town in County Tipperary there are at the present time 12 insurance agents collecting £60, weekly premiums. Does the Minister think, that after the passage of this measure, employment will still be found for these 12 people in Tipperary who are in receipt of a weekly wage——

There are no provisions in this Bill for compulsory amalgamation.

This Bill pre-supposes the absorption or the amalgamation of existing companies. Otherwise, we are wasting our time here. If that is not the object, what is the reason for bringing in this Bill? Anybody who has made any study of the matter knows perfectly well that redundancy will arise, and if redundancy arises as a result of the absorption of some companies, then I think in fairness to the people who will be deprived of their employment, compensation should be provided for them. I do not agree with the detailed proposals put forward by Deputy Lynch as to the way in which the money is to be raised, but I think that is a minor matter as compared with the principle that compensation should be provided for those who are rendered redundant and that a section should be inserted in this Bill for that purpose. I would strongly urge the Minister to reconsider his attitude and to remember how eloquent he and other Deputies were when they were in Opposition in favour of this very same proposal in other Acts. I would also ask him to remember that since the Government came into office the Ministry, as a result of pressure from all parts of the House, agreed to provide compensation under the National Health Insurance Act for agents and others who lost their employment as a result of the coming into operation of that measure.

Consistency makes debate in this House a good deal simpler than it otherwise would be, but I find it very hard to follow the line of reasoning which the Minister has pursued to lead him to the axiom that once you have agreed that foreign companies may continue to function here, you must stipulate that they must function on exactly equal terms with companies carried on by Irish nationals.

I did not say that.

I understood the Minister to say that once we made up our minds on the principle that British and European companies were allowed to be carried on here, we were bound by the view that we could not impose upon them any burden which we did not ask an Irish company to carry.

Any burden which would make it impossible for them to carry on here.

I understood him to say any burdens which were not imposed on Irish companies. If he said that, it would be rather difficult to reconcile it with the attitude of the Government in regard to the tobacco industry where he deliberately imposed burdens on a foreign company which firms of Irish origin were not called upon to bear. If the Minister hesitates to accept that doctrine, we shall pass from it. I want at this juncture to register an emphatic protest against a principle that was first enunciated in this House by the President of the Executive Council, namely that you cannot have omelettes without breaking eggs. I do not consider that this Legislature is entitled to smash the whole livelihood and family establishment of a citizen of this State without compensating that individual for his loss. If the community makes up its mind that it wants to establish a new order in any branch of the nation's life, the community has the right to do it within certain limitations, but it should be remembered by this House that while we are omnipotent in the legislative sphere, there is a law higher than any law we pass, a law which binds and restricts us in our legislation, and that is the law of natural justice.

I say that this House has no right to smash a man's means of livelihood, to break up his family and put him on the street in order to accommodate the remainder of the community. I do not believe that any act of this House which confiscates a man's property has any validity. We have the power and we have the right, where the community good demands it, compulsorily to acquire the property of any citizen provided we give him fair compensation for what the community takes from him. We have no right to take his property and to console him with the reflection that he is one of the eggs that had to be smashed in order to make our omelette. If compulsory amalgamations take place under this Bill, these amalgamations will take place because we compel them. They may result in men being deprived of their means of livelihood, men who have built up in their own small way a very valuable goodwill and a very valuable business——

Under what section of the Bill have we power to do that?

The Minister will allow me to say what I have to say, and he can then rebut me afterwards. Take an agent who goes out in the field, to build up a book for an industrial insurance company. He may have a rival in the particular area in which he is operating. They engage in the friendly rivalry of trade, each man acquiring his own clear debit. The debit which that individual has built up for his company is that individual's little business and his livelihood depends upon it. Now if we are to compel amalgamation amongst the two companies who employ these two men——

Under what section of the Bill do we compel amalgamation?

The Minister has powers under certain sections of the Bill to make a company to get out or to amalgamate.

A company can be wound up if it is insolvent but not otherwise.

The Minister has power under the Bill to compel a company to wind up or to amalgamate.

I have no power to compel them to amalgamate with another company.

He has power to compel any company, which has not complied with the standards of solvency set up by this Bill, to amalgamate. I propose to make my case and the Minister will have abundant parliamentary time to rebut it, but it is disorderly, and it is not helpful, continually to interrupt. These two men who have built up their respective debits find that, by the operation of a statute of this House, their companies are amalgamated. One of the primary purposes of the amalgamation is to make it possible for the work these two men were doing in the past to be done by one in the future so that solvency, according to the Ministerial standard, would be established for the amalgamated company. From the community point of view that may be a mighty good thing, something for which everybody in this House would stand, something into which this House would conscientiously go and carry through, but what I am asking is this, that if that community good is to be achieved, an individual engaged in a perfectly legitimate enterprise, such as an insurance agent, will get such compensation as an independent tribunal would adjudge to be fair and honest for what he has lost. We are in this House prone to get detached from the ordinary everyday life of the people who live around us. It is all very well for us to take a lofty view of each problem, but we ought to think of the situation that will arise if one of the victims of this legislation happens to be our next-door neighbour. If a man who has two or three children, who is buying a house and who has made certain commitments on the basis of his earning capacity, is informed some morning that that earning capacity has ceased, his only recourse is to unemployment assistance. I ask the House to bear in mind that we are dealing with insurance agents and that these are men who have no craft, men who are not skilled, in a wide sense, and who cannot readily pass from one employment to another. They have, probably, no professional qualifications. They have, almost certainly, no trade qualifications and they are left high and dry. It is very hard for the simplest manual labourer to reconcile himself to going on unemployment assistance or outdoor relief, but it is ten times harder for a man who has lived in moderately comfortable circumstances and has accustomed his family to considerable amenities, to tell them that they can have none of these in future and that he has to go out and seek work as a day labourer. In rural Ireland, the circumstances of which I am particularly familiar with in this regard, that is going to happen in respect of a number of agents in the event of the provisions of this Bill becoming effectively operative.

What provisions?

The provisions which enable the Minister compulsorily to amalgamate companies.

Would the Deputy refer me to the section?

Does the Minister deny that in certain circumstances he can require a company to wind up or amalgamate?

There is nothing in the Bill about compulsory amalgamation.

Does the Minister deny that he can fix a company with notice that it must wind up by a certain date or amalgamate under a scheme to be approved by him?

The Minister has no power to wind up a company under the Bill. In the case of an insolvent company, the Minister has power to make application to the High Court.

Do not quibble any longer. I thought that was the point on which you were getting out.

Read the Bill.

We are talking of the tendency of the Bill.

The Minister knows that the case we make here is absolutely unanswerable and, for that reason, he desires to confuse it by irrelevant interruption. I put it to the Minister that under the Bill an individual may be obliged to deprive his family of what they had been accustomed to and what he had hoped to make permanently available for them. Speaking on behalf of the agents of rural Ireland, whose circumstances I know and understand, I say that some of them with whom I am personally acquainted will have no alternative but to go out and look for work as day labourers. Owing to their mode of life, bad day labourers they will make. They are not accustomed to heavy physical work and they will find themselves at a discount in the market for unskilled labour. I say that this House has no right to interfere in the lives of citizens in that way. I say that this House has no right to smash the lives of individual families in that way, and I say that there is an absolute obligation on us to provide reasonable compensation for those people if, for the common good, we have to deprive them of their existing means of livelihood. The Minister himself has accepted that principle because, speaking on the Second Stage of the Bill, he used these words:—

"It is my intention that persons who are dependent for their livelihoods on insurance employment and who are affected by this measure will be fairly dealt with."

All I ask is: what did the Minister mean by saying that? Surely, if he is going to repel a series of amendments designed to provide compensation for those persons to whom he himself referred—those persons who are "affected by this measure" and whose livelihood depends on insurance employment—the obligation is on him now to tell us what his plan is, because the only indication he has given us of what is in his mind gives rise to the gravest alarm in my mind. On the Second Stage of this Bill, I dealt with this question and used these words:—

"There is no fund available to the Irish insurance offices out of which displaced employees can be fairly compensated."

Deputy Davin referred to the fact that we accepted the principle of compensation in national health insurance legislation. We did, but let us be careful now lest we be carried too far by that analogy. There is no fund at the disposal of the Irish insurance companies to finance compensation. They have had an extremely difficult job to build up their businesses and a lot of people forget, in that connection, one of the most vital matters in respect of this whole problem. A lot of people are inclined to say, "Why is it, if British and Continental companies were able to build up huge reserves to meet emergencies of this kind, the Irish companies never did so?" The answer is one which ought to be present to the minds of Deputies— that the foreign companies built up their businesses during a period when there was virtually no State regulation. A great part of their reserves accrued from practices which were then legitimate in the narrow sense of the word.

In Great Britain.

And are still legitimate here.

What on earth is the Minister talking about?

Whatever practices the Deputy referred to are still legitimate here.

The Minister is beginning to ramble. I do not mind the Minister interrupting me when he shows any degree of intelligence, but he has now started to ramble. Practices in operation in the early stages of the great insurance companies of the world, practices which are not now within the law and have not been within the law for the past 20 years, made it possible for them to build up very large reserves. The Irish companies were never able to build up these reserves, because they were all founded after very considerable reform in insurance law had been enacted. They built up their business under a comparatively stringent insurance code, with the result that they have no vast reserves out of which compensation of the kind we have in mind can be financed. I want to make the case that if the State butts in and breaks up a man's means of livelihood, then it is the obligation of the State to compensate him for it.

Who paid compensation in the case of the National Health Insurance Society?

That was borne on the funds of the National Health Insurance Society.

The benefiting concern.

I do not want to go into a long discussion as to the constitution of the Irish National Health Insurance Society. The Deputy ought to know that that body is organised on a mutual basis and passes on any profits it makes in the form of statutory benefits to the insured parties. It was not designed to make a profit. There is no capital invested in it and it has nothing to do but administer the funds which come into its hands by way of premiums.

Who paid compensation in the case of the transport legislation?

The company which got the monopoly. Who is getting the monopoly in this case?

The Deputy says the State should pay compensation. Let him cite a case in which the State ever did pay compensation in these circumstances.

You are not getting an analogy if you refer to the transport business.

I agree that there is no analogy.

Why introduce it, then?

Let me tell the House why the Minister introduced it. He introduced it for the purpose of discussing irrelevancies in order to rebut an unanswerable argument.

Will the Deputy mention one case in which the State paid compensation under similar circumstances?

I say that, in the exist ing situation, the obligation is on the State to pay compensation and, when I have made that argument, the Minister can answer it.

That was not the case made by Deputy Lynch.

I am not concerned with the case made by any other Deputy. I am pointing out that there is a danger in establishing too close an analogy between the National Health Insurance Society and the companies with whom we are dealing, because the plain fact is this, that if you apply the same compensation proposals to the Irish insurance companies that you applied to the national health insurance societies, you are going to burst all the Irish insurance companies. These are the facts: There are rights in the employees and there are obligations which it is our duty to place on the proper shoulders. My object in placing those obligations on the shoulders of the State is threefold. First, I believe the State is responsible and, therefore, the State should pay; secondly, I do not want to make any proposal to this House which will result not only in the legitimate compensation for the employees being jettisoned, but would also result in destroying the business at which the employees have to make their livelihood— that is to say, to wipe out the Irish insurance companies altogether. It would be a desperately irresponsible thing to adopt a scheme which would saddle the Irish companies with such proposals as would be almost impossible for them to meet. In the third place the reason why this proposal should commend itself to this House is this: We have had bitter experience of the general vague proposals which saddle the Exchequer with a liability the full extent of which it is very difficult to envisage, because it may go on and it may grow. But we know the full possible extent of the liability which this proposal will put upon the Exchequer. Its limit is the total number of persons employed at the present time by the Irish insurance industry. If the full staffs employed on Irish insurance were wiped out that would be the full limit of the responsibility on the Exchequer. In practice we know that it is to be very small indeed, and it is going to be very small for this reason—that while certain persons are going to lose their jobs many of the companies to be amalgamated will say that it is the common experience of insurance companies that the normal wastage in the staff is high. People pass out of employment, they get married, they get other jobs. There is a good deal of transitory employment and there may be other wastage. That consideration would have to be carefully examined. When the assessment of compensation comes to be made the insurance companies will say to themselves: "If we had to anticipate maintaining the staffs for ever we might have to be more trenchant in our returns, but we are anticipating that we are going to lose a certain part of our staff through normal wastage; it is better to retain a slight surplus of skilled operatives than to cut the staff down to the minimum that would be efficient at the moment of amalgamation and then in four or five years to find ourselves recruiting unskilled operatives to fill the vacancies that will arise through normal wastage and other causes." So that we may hope that everybody who from the strictly efficient point of view may be dispensed with, will not be dispensed with, and we may be certain that perhaps 50 per cent. of the employees who on the strict letter of efficiency would be cut out, will be retained and that all we have to deal with is the 50 per cent. that are going. When we come to examine their cases, some of these may be very young, just starting, and have very little claim at all upon the bounty of the State, because they will be equally adapted for employment elsewhere. We will find others to whom the change will be a hardship and they will require compensation to tide them over the period while they are equipping themselves for some other employment. A very small minority will become a charge upon the State, as we will have interfered with their earning their living at a period late in life for them. On the whole, taking everything into consideration, the liability from the State point of view is going to be extremely small, but the liability on the insurance company that is striving to keep itself on the strictest level of actuarial solvency might be intolerable. To refuse them any compensation would be a glaring and intolerable injustice, and so I very strongly urge on the House that it should insist that the Minister should, on the Report Stage, give a definite undertaking that some compensation scheme will be brought before this House to be financed by the Exchequer. I do not know on what amendment that is to be decided upon, but if it is decided upon this amendment I want to make it clear that I cannot agree with Deputy Lynch on the details of the scheme he suggests for dealing with the compensation fund. If some scheme of compensation is not brought forward I am prepared to vote against the section.

I am not, of course, entirely wedded to the scheme embodied in amendments Nos. 9, 10 and 11 to Section 6, but I am willing to let the scheme be settled on the proposals set out in amendment No. 9. Personally, I believe that this is the best method of going about it. I think it is absolutely impracticable that the Saorstát companies should have to be carrying compensation burdens that would be particularly unfair to them, burdens too which they would be quite incapable of carrying. It would also be unfair to ask the promoting company in the event of amalgamation to carry the burden of compensation to meet the matter of the redundant employees. I say that because they will have as a liability, first of all, the large sum that will be borrowed—£500,000—and I presume they will have to make arrangements for the repayment of that sum by principal and interest.

That will be invested capital.

Mr. Lynch

In that sense then it will be something on which they will have to pay interest.

Out of profits.

Mr. Lynch

Very well. If the Minister is satisfied that the promoting company can carry the burden I am prepared to leave it at that, but I consider it is entirely wrong for him to suggest that this 2½ per cent. on the foreign companies operating here is going to drive any of them out of the country. The figures as to the variation in the rate of expenses of these companies will give the House an idea of how this matter will operate. The expenses vary from 23.34 per cent. in the case of the Prudential to 38.26 per cent. in the case of the Royal Liver Friendly Society. Where there is such a variation in the routine of expenses of these companies paying exactly the same benefits to the policy-holders, I do not see how 2½ per cent. additional added to the routine expenses is going to make the slightest difference to them. I do not think that one of them would dream of leaving the profitable ground they have here if their operation costs had this 2½ per cent. added to them. When these companies differentiate between the treatment of policy-holders here and the treatment of policy-holders in Great Britain and Northern Ireland I do not think they would have anything to complain of if we gave that much advantage to the Saorstát companies as against them. The Minister can be very vague when he likes. He has stated that there are too many people in the insurance business. At the same time, he questions whether there will be any redundancy. He said that it depends only on whether or not there will be amalgamation and there may or may not be amalgamation; he hopes there will be. I think that inevitably there is going to be redundancy, if it is only because of the provision in the Bill for the partitioning of the life business from the general business. That in itself, to my mind, will create redundancy, and in that way you will have persons unemployed. If you enforce the provisions contained in Section 12 (4) (b)——

I said that in some instances there was unnecessary duplication.

Mr. Lynch

——in my opinion it will lead obviously to redundancy; there will be persons unemployed as a result of its operation. At the moment there are 1,500 whole-time employees in the Saorstát companies. It is estimated that if all the provisions of the Bill become law, if amalgamation becomes a fact, the number employed whole-time by the companies will be reduced to 600. No provision is made in the Bill for the 900 who will become redundant and who will lose their employment. The Minister tells us that it will not be an insoluble problem, that it will be only for a time and will ultimately disappear. But during the period when these people will be out of work what is going to happen to them? What provision is being made for the people who will be rendered unemployed? Some may be fortunate enough to get employment in other spheres and some of them may die, but for the vast majority what is the prospect? It must be remembered that as regards men engaged in insurance work over a number of years, when they reach the age of 40 years they are usually unfit for any other type of employment, and their position will be rendered very difficult when their means of livelihood is taken from them, as I foresee it will be under this Bill. Inevitably large numbers of them will become unemployed. If the principle of compensation in regard to these persons is enshrined in the Bill, I will be quite satisfied. I am not wedded to the actual words set down, although I still believe that they constitute the most practical way out. If there is any other way found of dealing with this matter along the lines I have suggested, it will meet with approval on this side of the House.

Let us be clear on the extent of the problem we are facing. The Minister pretends to believe that there will be no redundancy, or that there will be very slight redundancy. He seems to be agitated to-day at the thought that there is anywhere in this Bill a clause which may bring about redundancy. He told us on one occasion that there are far too many people in this business. I think his words were that there are too many people employed in the industry at the present time to permit of its being conducted on sound lines. He turns his back now on his Second Reading speech and he tries to avoid that aspect of it. There are three possible ways in which redundancy may be caused. He may present a petition for the winding-up of an insolvent company, in the first place. Secondly, amalgamation may take place with or without such modifications as the Minister may care to impose. Thirdly, as Deputy Lynch pointed out, the whole tendency of the Bill, with the partitioning of the life and industrial assurance business from every other type of assurance business drives towards amalgamation and ultimately towards redundancy.

If that is not certain, there are his own phrases when closing on the Second Reading, and I think he then accepted in the tenor of that speech the particular analogies put before him by Deputy Norton. Deputy Norton took the phrase used by Deputy Kennedy, that the management expense ratio was going to be forced down, as in England. A question was asked how it was done in England, and the answer in the main was by reduction of staff. In the main it will be that way here, too. The Minister may talk about not having so many companies running up expenditure here running after the same little bit of business. How did they get after that little bit of business? With their separate staffs, and the biggest economy that will be made through this measure will be on the staffs. I would personally hesitate to impose on the State any big burden by way of compensation, and I would hesitate if I thought the number of staff likely to be rendered redundant was going to be large. I do not know whether immediately it is going to be large. I believe that, as the years pass by, what would be the throwing of people in employment out of that employment will be met in another way, namely, that as the wastage occurs other people need not be recruited. It closes an avenue to employment, but it does not throw out of employment people already in. I do not think the problem is a very serious one in the sense that there is not going to be a very big number. The burden is not going to be a very heavy one.

What about the burden you imposed?

It was a wise provision from the point of view of the people who became redundant. Take the case of the transport amalgamation and the people who were five years continuously engaged on the whole-time operation of certain vehicles. I think at a high level it would work out about £70.

What was the burden you imposed under the Railways Act for the same type of people?

I suggest there is a standard of compensation already set, and the Parliament of the Free State from time to time has accepted as a principle that when the State intervenes to cut down a field of employment for people who are already in a particular branch of employment, there should be compensation payable. That was done in the case of the Railways Act of 1924, the electricity undertaking arising out of the Shannon Development and the Road Transport Act of 1933. The principle was also observed when the bus companies were amalgamating and at the time of the National Health Insurance amalgamation.

We are asked who is to pay the compensation. I thought the Minister would have welcomed the proposal with regard to the 2½ per cent. on the foreign companies. I remember the Minister, when he was dining with the New Ireland Assurance Company, talking of these people as little alien outposts, hostile to the country's development, concerned only with the profits they could draw from the Saorstát business. Those were wild and woolly words; there was no semblance of truth in them at all, but yet they were words that the Minister thought fit to use on that occasion. I thought he would have welcomed Deputy Lynch's idea of putting a 2½ per cent. tax on them. Deputy Lynch was arguing in order to show that there might be something in the way of equalising the handicap under which the Irish companies suffer. It was a suggestion the Minister would have jumped at on another occasion.

I agree that it should not be put on any of the other companies; I do not think it should be shared by the companies; it should go on the State. There is no analogy with the other examples that have been suggested. Take the case of the electricity concern. A huge board was established, which was pretty nearly a State concern. It had very many of the attributes of a State concern. The only thing that prevented it being entirely a State concern was that it was thrown out at arm's length in order to permit people to run it in a commercial way. At the time of the railway amalgamation the argument was used that the railways could gain enormous sums by economies which were then being put before them, and it was a small thing to ask them in return to meet the compensation bill caused by the redundancy of certain men.

The same argument is good here, too.

If it can be said that any company here is getting a monopoly it is a good argument, but without that there is no analogy.

It is going to end in that.

I will wait until that point is reached. If it is, then I think there will be a great case for shifting the burden from the State to the monopolistic group. But let us wait until that time comes. I do not see that in the Bill or anywhere else. As regards the transport undertakings, there was the open statement in the House that what was aimed at was to hand over the carrying of passengers and goods on the roads to three companies so that there would be a monopoly within their own respective zones. If there was anything of that sort here, then I think the monopoly should bear its burden on its back, but there is no such thing here. The State is interfering here; it is shutting those people out of employment, and should meet the burden. The Minister told us there is nothing here enabling compulsory amalgamation. The tendency of the Bill is towards amalgamation. The whole intention of the Bill is towards that. Even if there was only in the Bill amalgamation of the type brought about by the goodwill of certain companies, then I think we should meet that and make proposals to that end. Deputies should remember that this House loses its grip on this measure once it passes from it. The Minister is not even going to prescribe the things that these amalgamated companies may do. He is allowed to make a movement in that direction to them, but this House will not hear of that or know what he is going to do with regard to redundancy, if redundancy is brought about by amalgamation.

The whole object of this is to drive towards a separation of business, to a better consolidation and to fewer hands in the insurance business. The Minister has told us that there are too many people employed in the industry at the present time to permit of its being conducted on sound lines. That is not in reference to amalgamation, but in regard to the generality of the Bill. The Minister envisages redundancy. So do we all. The difficulty I see about this measure is that one unfortunate tendency. I do not know what the country is exactly developing towards: whether it is making towards a certain goal with deliberation. We started in this country with a legal decision rather than by an Act of Parliament, so that we have the whole licensed trade made a sort of closed corporation as far as this House is concerned. In a variety of measures we have made transport closed. As far as the Minister is concerned in regard to certain industries, we are making these closed also. There are going to be certain closed boroughs in the future in which it will be as hard for anyone to get into as it was in the old days of the rigid guilds. I suppose the rest are going to be left to the unemployment insurance fund and the unemployment assistance fund. Here in this Bill we find the same tendency: the closing up of avenues of work and the shutting out of competition and of enterprise.

Saving the insurable population from themselves.

I do not know that we are doing that. The Minister seems to halt between the two attitudes. Sometimes he tells us that there is going to be redundancy and a reduction in the ratio as between the cost and the economies effected.

Did the Deputy learn anything during the time that he was Minister?

I learned to avoid this sort of thing. As regards one of the amalgamation proposals for which I had responsibility, I regret it because, in the main, it worked out against the humans who were employed in the industry. I say that very tendency is here. With the bit of experience I derived when a Minister, I am in favour of compensation for people who are thrown out of their occupation by State intervention. If the burden is small, that is all the more reason for facing up to it. If there is going to be a vast number of people thrown out, and if the burden is going to be a heavy one, either upon the foreign insurance companies or insurance generally, or on the State, there is at any rate a weighty argument against any proposal for compensation; but if we are told by the Minister that, although there are too many in the industry, it is not an important consideration: if the burden of paying this compensation is going to be light, then we should shoulder it. If, however, it is going to be an enormously heavy thing, then the argument is against it

If I intervene now I think it may help to clarify the position in the minds of some Deputies. The essential difference between the Transport Acts, the Electricity Supply Act and the National Health Insurance Acts, to which reference has been made, and the Bill now before the Dáil, has not been mentioned. Each of these Acts provided for compensation for certain persons losing their employment in consequence of their enactment. The essential difference, however, between the provision in any of these Acts and this Bill is that they give power to effect, because of considerations of public policy, the acquisition, amalgamation or the elimination of solvent concerns, of concerns which were making profits, and which could look forward to enjoying those profits with reasonable continuity, the employees of which had also reasonable security in their employment which entitled them to compensation.

Does the Minister think that the State acted considerately in regard to the railway companies?

A number of the railway companies were not making profits, but they were guaranteed their profits by local authorities, as in the case of the baronially guaranteed lines.

Take the main lines. Where was the guarantee in their case?

I say that they had a reasonable certainty of continuing in operation, and that the employees had a reasonable certainty of being continued in their employment.

By your legislation you wrote down the debenture stock of the railways by 20 per cent.

We could not guarantee that any particular bus company was likely to continue in operation, but provision was made that the employees of the company who lost their employment were to be compensated——

Stick to the railways.

——if not employed by the concern to whom its licence was transferred. I want to concentrate the attention of Deputies upon the essential difference that each of these Bills gave power to deal with solvent concerns, and that power was given because of considerations of public policy.

The railway company was not a solvent concern.

Would the Deputy keep silent until I develop my argument? He can talk as much as he likes afterwards. The railway company in 1924, when amalgamation was effected, was a much more solvent concern than it was eight years later and, in any event, the railway company itself believed that, given certain facilities, it could make a reasonable profit.

Did they tell you that, because they told me a different story?

I said that "given certain facilities."

That was not their story at the time that I was in charge.

I do not want to get side-tracked off my main argument which is that these Acts gave power to deal with solvent concerns, or at any rate solvent concerns were brought within their scope. Power was taken to effect this amalgamation, acquisition or elimination irrespective of whether these concerns were solvent or insolvent, and that was done for reasons of public policy. This Bill does nothing of the kind. A company which is solvent and which carries on its business in strict accordance with the law—that is in accordance with the provisions of this Bill when it becomes law—cannot be interfered with by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. If Deputy Dillon says that is not so, will he refer me to the section which gives power to interfere?

You can compel them to divide their business.

The Bill compels them to divide their business.

That is why there will be redundancy.

Is that the reason for the compensation proposal?

That is why there will be redundancy. It is one of the reasons—one of three.

We will deal with that consideration. The suggestion, I take it, is that because there may be amalgamations of companies under Part III of the Bill, the Bill should provide for the establishment by the State of a fund from which compensation can be paid to any employees of the amalgamating companies who may not be employed in the amalgamated company.

Deputy Dillon referred to a section and not to Part III at all.

I will deal with Deputy Lynch first. I am not quite clear as to what he intends because his amendments, so far as I have been able to follow them, provide for the creation of a fund and for the revenue of that fund, but they do not seem to provide for payments out of that fund. I have not been able to find an amendment which defines the classes of persons to whom payments are to be made or the circumstances under which they are to be made. Is that right? There is no such provision?

Mr. Lynch


I take it then that Deputy Lynch intends that any employee of an insurance company who can show that he loses his employment consequent on the enactment of this measure, through any cause, is to get compensation and other employees in certain circumstances are to get pensions. The only amendment the Deputy has in relation to amalgamations seems to me to provide that the costs of compensation are to be paid by the amalgamating companies. That is amendment 78.

Mr. Lynch

That, of course, is an alternative, if this fails.

The Deputy apparently contemplates that if a company is wound up under this Bill as insolvent, wound up because it is insolvent, the State is to provide compensation for the employees of that company. That is Deputy Lynch's proposal and I am anxious to know if it has the support of the Deputies opposite.

The principle of compensation has.

We have repeatedly said——

I am not giving way to Deputy Dillon.

On a point of order, the Chair asked for an accommodation with the House and suggested that a series of amendments could be taken in one discussion for the purpose of deciding the general principle of compensation. In deference to an agreement of the House, all parties have been proceeding to discuss the principle of compensation without advertance to the various proposals of Deputy Lynch's implementing the principle. One or two of us have completely dissociated ourselves from Deputy Lynch's proposals. As I understand, we are having a Second Reading discussion on the principle of compensation.

I propose to deal with the principle of compensation. Deputy Lynch's principle of compensation is that every person now employed by an insurance company, who loses his employment in consequence of any of the provisions of this Bill, is to be compensated. I am anxious to find out if Deputy Dillon and his associates on the front bench accept that principle in toto. If there is an insolvent company, so insolvent that it cannot meet its liabilities, and if that company is wound up under this Bill and prohibited from carrying on further business, Deputies opposite are concerned to see that the employees of that company get compensation for the loss of their employment. If we read in the paper to-morrow that Company A, an Irish insurance company, had smashed, that it had ceased to carry on business, that it was going to be wound up and that it was unable to meet its liabilities, do Deputies opposite think that I should come immediately before the Dáil with a Supplementary Estimate to provide compensation for its employees? Do they think that my concern should be for those employees or for the 100,000 or 200,000 people who had given their money on trust to that company, and whose policies have become less valuable than the paper on which they were printed? Is that the Deputy's point—that our concern should be for the employees of these insolvent companies, because it is only insolvent companies that can be affected by the provisions of this measure?

Does the Minister want that answered now?

I do not want the Deputy's answer now.

That is not so, of course.

Are there any?

Of course there are.

Mr. Lynch

What about redundancy as a result of the partition for instance?

I will deal with that in a minute. The Deputy has just reversed his argument in that regard, because when he was discussing the division of business he argued against it on the ground that it was going to cause unnecessary duplication of business and apparently duplication of staff. That is the obvious consequence of that proposal. It is not going to lead to any reduction in employment in the insurance business. It may lead to certain minor increases in employment in the insurance business.

That particular provision of the Bill.

About partitioning?

All right; go on for a minute. I want to find out where you yourself saw unemployment according to your Second Reading speech.

I am going to deal with my proposal in a minute, but I am anxious to get clear the principle on which Deputies opposite are standing. That principle is that where an insolvent company ceases to do business, the State is to provide, out of State funds, compensation for the employees of that company and not compensation for the policy holders, not compensation for the shareholders. The people who gave their 1/- a week or 2/6 a week——

That is tripe, and you know it.

——in premiums to that company are not to be compensated. There is no proposal in this list of amendments tabled by the Deputies to provide them with compensation, but compensation is to be provided under any circumstances under which unemployment arises to persons now employed by insurance companies. That is what Deputies opposite require. I do not think we should do it. I do not think there should be any obligation on the State to provide compensation for those people out of State funds. It has never been done. It was not done in the case of the railways or the omnibus services; it was not done in the case of the electricity undertakings; and it was not done in the case of the national health societies. In each of these cases, there was, however, this provision, that, where compensation was payable, it was to be provided by the amalgamated company, the company that got the benefit of the legislation. There is a certain amount of sense in the proposal submitted in Deputy Norton's name relating to this matter contained in another amendment later on. I do not say that I am accepting it. I think there is an argument against his proposal in principle, as there is against the proposal put forward by Deputy Lynch, but it is a more sensible contention than Deputy Lynch's contention, because at least Deputy Norton says that the circumstances that may lead to the amalgamation, or may result from the amalgamation, must be taken into account and there is no point in providing now for the creation of a fund and the imposition of taxes for the purpose of that fund to provide for compensation to be paid in cash. The necessity for it might never arise.

It is necessary again to emphasise that the only power which this Bill proposes to give the Minister for Industry and Commerce which could be used to effect amalgamation is power to apply to the High Court for an order to wind up an insolvent company. It is not the Minister who decides that the company is insolvent; it is the High Court decides it. The Minister is given power to apply for that order. That is his power, and it is the only power he can use to effect amalgamations.

And Section 12, subsection (4).

It is desirable, in my opinion, that that power should be exercised in that way, and, in relation to these Saorstát companies, created in the main upon national enthusiasm, as Deputy Burke pointed out, into which people were induced to put their savings upon the plea of "Support Irish Industries" that we should provide, not for their compulsory winding-up, but for their amalgamation under a scheme which is going to preserve, not the interests of the employees in these companies, not the interests of the shareholders in these companies, but the value of the policies held by the policy-holders. That is our intention. Amalgamations may take place, and, because of amalgamations, there may be a problem created by the fact that there are more people trying to get a livelihood out of insurance business at present than that business can support. That business, particularly industrial assurance business, is developing in that way. Companies are continually advertising for new agents, and trying to attract people to them as agents in the insurance business, with the result that there is a much larger number of people engaged in insurance business than would be engaged if better and sounder methods of carrying on the business were in operation. The problem of redundancy exists at the moment, and may create special difficulty in connection with the amalgamation scheme under Part III of the Bill. That difficulty however, can be resolved by other methods than by the payment of cash compensation. I am not leaving out as a solution of the problem payment of cash compensation, but I think it should be paid by the amalgamating company coming under the scheme, or by the amalgamated companies, but, in my opinion, it is better to deal with that problem, if it arises by other methods.

These methods suggest themselves immediately to Deputies. It is possible, under the policy of amalgamation, to secure the carrying of redundant staffs until the growth in business, the increase in premiums resulting from amalgamation or normal wastage will rectify the position. My opinion, therefore, is that any question of unemployment, resulting from an amalgamation scheme, should be dealt with by the amalgamation scheme as put forward, and that there should be an obligation on the part of a company putting forward a scheme to offer proposals as to how it will deal with the problem of their staffs. I think the problem can be dealt with better than by the provision of cash compensation, because under the manner in which insurance is carried on the assessment of the compensation to be paid in individual cases would be very difficult.

An attempt was made to justify the amendment `because of the proposals in the Bill for the division of business. Preventing a company doing a life business from doing other classes of insurance business as well may result in unemployment. It is extremely improbable that it will. Any Deputy familiar with the circumstances will see at once that in certain respects this proposal may actually necessitate the recruitment of additional staffs. It has been argued by the insurance companies that it may make the carrying on of certain classes of insurance very difficult, and that in certain classes of insurance business there will be duplication. But I do not think it will mean that the persons concerned will not be employed in the insurance business in future. Other provisions of the Bill will operate to create for them wider opportunities for employment in the Saorstát than previously.

I am, therefore, resisting this amendment, or any proposal to put upon the State the obligation of paying compensation, or providing the means for paying compensation, to persons employed in the insurance business who may lose their employment because of the operation of this measure. If they lose their employment because of the wiping out of insolvent companies we have no obligation to them. Insolvent companies disappear in every business, and will again, and no one ever suggested that the State should compensate their employees. Insolvent insurance companies have disappeared. If this Bill should result in insolvent insurance companies ceasing to operate we have no obligations to their staffs. So far as the proposal may result in bringing out the redundancy of staffs and disemployment, these staffs should be dealt with under the amalgamation scheme, either by making provision for the payment of compensation or for the employment of these redundant staffs during whatever period may be necessary or in some other way. There are no grounds in this Bill which, in my opinion, would justify the inauguration of the elaborate scheme which Deputy Lynch suggests or any similar provision.

The most amazing statement made by the Minister in his speech was that in which he wants the House to believe that the power given in the Railways and Transport Act was power given for the purpose of eliminating solvent companies. But the Minister took jolly good care that he did not explain, even from his own point of view, what a solvent concern meant. Does he mean a concern that pays a rate of interest to its shareholders? If so, neither were the railways that were taken over under Deputy McGilligan's scheme, or that were compulsorily amalgamated under the Minister's own Act of 1933, or the present concern in a solvent position either then or now. The Minister ought to know, and if he does not, Deputy McGilligan can tell him that the principal amalgamated company of the Free State does not now pay dividends to its shareholders on certain of its shares. I am concerned to know from the Minister whether he holds the view that the railway concerns were in any different circumstances and could be regarded as solvent concerns. If the Minister does not know I would like Deputy McGilligan to answer that.

It is very easy to answer.

The Minister admitted that there are insolvent companies, whether British or Irish, to be wiped out, and, therefore, he admitted that a number of their staffs will be deprived of their employment because of the coming into operation of this Bill. I am not seriously concerned where such people are getting compensation from, or whether that compensation is to be provided by the State or the benefiting concern. Personally I believe that compensation paid in such circumstances should be provided by the company that gets the benefit of the increased business, namely, the amalgamated insurance company. We were told by Deputy Lynch, and I am not prepared to accept his opinion, that the Saorstát insurance companies would not be able to bear the burden of the small compensation we are asking for under the terms of this amendment. Anybody who knows anything about Irish insurance companies will be able to recollect the name of an Irish insurance company which some time ago sold its shares to another concern. Everyone with any knowledge of the activities of that body, and every shareholder, knows the amazing amount of compensation paid to the people who lost their seats on the board of directors and the increased amount paid to Irish shareholders who sold their shares in that company to another body of people. I do not know whether Deputy Lynch remembers the name of the company which carried out that operation. If so, would he say how many other Irish companies are in the same happy position? Would he say how many companies that will get increased business by a Bill of this kind would not be able to pay an amount of compensation to their Irish staffs?

Did not the Irish shareholders get back their money? I think the Deputy is out of date with his information.

Deputy Costello knows the name of the company.

You are out of date in your information. It is an exclusively Irish company at present.

I am sure the Deputy will admit that the body of patriots who sold out their interests in that concern, at a particular period, to another body of people received a fairly decent profit on the transaction——

I know nothing about it.

——and that amazing amounts were paid by way of compensation to the directors who lost their jobs on the board before it was handed over to another body of people.

I think the Deputy is exaggerating slightly.

I hope the Deputy will correct me.

I know nothing about it.

He will probably be able to give more accurate information on this matter, if he will give it.

Why do you say so?

Will he say that a company so circumstanced will be unable to carry on after providing compensation to such a small number of employees as will become redundant?

I say it would be unfair to put that burden upon them.

I say that the benefiting concern should bear the burden of any compensation to be paid.

I shall deal with that.

That was the policy that the Deputy's Party supported in connection with the Railways Act and the Transport Act, but with this difference I admit, that the railway company concerned got a monopoly. But this Bill is leading to a monopoly.

It is far from it. Where is the monopoly in this?

The monopoly does not appear on the face of the Bill as it stands, but it is clearly brought in with the object of giving some Irish company at a particular period in the future a monopoly of insurance business here.

Putting the British companies out?

Personally I am in favour of giving assistance by legislation, or financial assistance, if necessary and justifiable, to solvent Irish insurance companies to build up their business in fair competition with any foreign company. I do not think that the few decent Irish companies are competing under fair conditions at present.

Does the Deputy say he sees in this Bill——

I am not going to be cross-examined by Deputy Dillon on a matter of this kind. I want to say that, in my opinion, Deputy Dillon deliberately twisted the meaning of amendment No. 9, which stands in the name of Deputy Lynch, for his own good reasons in the interests of the shareholders of the insurance companies, and tried to lead the House away from the main principle of the amendment moved by Deputy Lynch. Deputy Lynch sought to secure the acceptance of the principle of compensation for redundant officials of the Irish companies.

Where was the twist?

Deputy Lynch made it clear that he was not sticking hard and fast to the details contained in amendment No. 9.

Deputy Dillon said that.

Deputy Lynch did not emphasise, as Deputy Dillon did, that that burden should be wholly borne by the State.

Deputy Dillon said that that was his special difference with Deputy Lynch.

I am not sure that the barrister Deputies opposite are entitled to cross-examine me on this matter. With your assistance, Sir, I am not going to engage in cross-talk either with Deputy Dillon or with Deputy McGilligan.

We shall hear the Deputy without interruption.

Deputy McGilligan knows much more about the meaning of this measure than Deputy Dillon will ever learn. He was in the Department of Industry and Commerce for a number of years and had to listen to representations from solvent and insolvent insurance companies. As far as I am concerned, and as far as the members of this Party are concerned, we do not want to prop up any longer, at the expense of the insurable population of this country, insolvent companies, whether Irish or British. We voted for the amalgamation of businesses through measures passed in this House, with the full knowledge when doing so that these Bills, whether the Railway Bill, the Transport Bill or the National Health Insurance Bill, were bound in the end to lead to redundancy and to loss of employment by a number of people concerned in these industries. We supported these Bills on the condition that, in all such cases, where the State deprives persons of employment, provision should be made in these Bills for the payment of reasonable compensation to the persons losing their employment. I say again that I am not seriously concerned as to whether the compensation comes from the State or from the benefiting concerns, but my personal view is that it should come from the benefiting bodies—the insurance companies that are going to get the benefit of the increased business.

In the case of the National Health Insurance Act, the Minister for Local Government, after a good deal of pressure both from this House and the Upper House, which has now disappeared, ultimately agreed that compensation should be paid to the part-time agents who lost their employment. In that case the Minister made provision for the payment of compensation to people whom he knew were not making their livelihood in the main out of the small incomes that they received for acting as agents for national health insurance societies. I strongly press the Minister to make provision for the payment of reasonable compensation to persons who will lose their full-time employment as a result of the operation of this measure. I appeal strongly to the Minister and to his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, who is now sitting on the Front Bench, and who knows more about the implications of this measure than even the Minister for Industry and Commerce, to give this matter more careful and more sympathetic consideration than it appears to have received up to the present. I ask the Minister to take it back on the case made by Deputy Lynch and not on the case made by Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon made it quite clear to the House that he was not in favour of the payment of compensation to redundant officials, although he agreed with the principle, simply because it would interfere with the income of the shareholders of the companies here.

Deputy Davin at this juncture has gone loco.

I take the meaning which any ordinary man will take out of the plain language used by Deputy Dillon, who tried to get across the Minister and to destroy the good effect of the case made by his colleague, Deputy Lynch. That is my opinion of the speech made by Deputy Dillon, at any rate. I am not deliberately giving any exaggerated version of the speech he made.

I can only suggest that you momentarily went out of your mind.

The final word of the Minister, in reply to the very effective case made by Deputy Lynch, was that he was prepared to ask the amalgamating companies when they are submitting a scheme for amalgamation or absorption to indicate what compensation they are prepared to provide for those who would become redundant, or whether they would make provision for the employment of the people who would lose their employment in these insolvent companies that are going to disappear. I am not prepared to leave it to the goodwill or the generosity of the directors of the amalgamating companies. I think we should have clearly shown in a section of a Bill of this kind the nature of the compensation provisions and the extent to which compensation is going to be provided for those who will lose their employment as a result of the measure brought in by the Minister. It should be contained in a Bill of this kind, just as in any of the other measures which provided for the amalgamation or absorption of other business companies.

The Minister talked about the effect of the Transport Act. The Minister and his predecessor, Deputy McGilligan, had the owners of these small so-called transport concerns coming on deputations, both before Deputy McGilligan left office and as soon as the present Minister came into office, telling them that if they did not give them protection in some shape or form they would be bound to disappear and that they were insolvent. Whenever I raised in this House the question of the wages paid by those large or small bus concerns I was told that I was slandering those people who were owners of those concerns. I was told, in other places, that they could not afford to pay more than 15/- per week to the conductors who were operating in and around the City of Dublin. What has happened under the operation of that measure? The unfortunate employees who had less than five years' service did not receive any compensation. But there are Deputies in this House who know—and the Minister for Industry and Commerce himself knows better than anybody in this House— the amazing amounts that were paid in compensation to the owners of those broken-down buses which cannot now be used in or around the City of Dublin. I have been given, and given on good authority, the amounts that were paid in compensation under the terms of the Transport Act.

That is travelling very far.

The point I want to make is this: why take such an interest in the owners of concerns that are supposed to be insolvent and not take any interest in or make any provision whatsoever for the redundancy that will arise under the terms of this Bill, even though it may affect so-called insolvent insurance companies? I am making a case here that the Minister should reconsider the whole position from the point of view of the redundancy that is likely to arise. I would ask him to give an undertaking—or I would ask the Minister for Agriculture to give an undertaking on his behalf—that this whole matter will be reconsidered in the light of the discussion which has now taken place, and that a section will be inserted in this Bill at a later stage making it quite clear to the employees who may become redundant what they may expect from the persons responsible for carrying the burden of the payment of compensation. There was a clear issue here on the principle, and on that I hope the Minister will make his position much more clear than he made it in the speech which he has just delivered. I would invite the Minister for Agriculture to give this House the benefit of the experience he has had in the insurance business, and the benefit of the conversations which he must have had with his colleague the Minister for Industry and Commerce on this matter. I would ask him to say "yes" or "no" to the question as to whether they are prepared to make provision in this Bill for the payment of compensation to persons who will become redundant and lose their employment as a result of the coming into operation of this measure. I want "yes" or "no" as an answer to that question.

I am in favour of this amendment by Deputy Lynch, having for its object the payment of compensation to those men who may lose their employment as a result of an Act passed by this House. I think it is only a matter of common justice that men who are deprived of their living should be compensated by the State. I was surprised to hear the speech of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Of course, one has got accustomed to the fact that, if it suited his purpose, he would argue a hole through a pot, but in this particular instance he argued the whole bottom out of the pot when he stated that there is nothing in this Bill which gave any Deputy the right to get up and say that amalgamation will take place.

I should like to ask the Minister if all those employees of the various companies concerned, notably the Irish companies, have been going round the country on a wild goose chase, organising meetings and interviewing Deputies of the various Parties during the last four or five months? Were they so devoid of common sense, and did they know so little about the sections of this Bill and what this Bill purports to put into effect, that they took all those precautions if they did not see in this Bill a danger of their livelihood being taken away from them? Yet, we have the Minister, in answer to Deputy Dillon and Deputy McGilligan, getting up in this House and saying: "Point out to me any section in the Bill which will do away with any of those companies or prevent any of those companies from functioning." Surely the Minister knew the position deep down in his heart when he stated: "If I have to choose between safeguarding the interests of the policy-holders of this country and the putting out of operation of insolvent insurance companies there can be only one opinion," which means that insolvent companies must go. That is the Irish Minister who, at the cross-roads of the Twenty-Six Counties of this country, has been telling the Irish people to insure in Irish companies, and we have it from the same Minister this evening that there are insolvent Irish companies in the Irish Free State.

We all know it.

He says that, and Deputy Davin says the same.

We want no more camouflage about this question. "Why should we pay compensation?" says this Irish Minister for Industry and Commerce. Everybody knows that certain Irish companies, which exist at the moment, have been created as a result of the propaganda that has been carried on throughout this country for the past eight or nine years by the Government and its supporters. The child on the street knows that; it is no secret. Yet the Minister stated here this evening: "If a company should become insolvent to-morrow morning, or next week, why should this Dáil be asked to put into this Bill a section which will be the means of paying compensation to the employees of that insolvent insurance company?" If I read anything into the speech of the Minister it is that he knows deep down in his heart that at the moment there are Irish companies—let him not say "companies," or let not Deputy Davin say "companies"; Irish companies are the only companies referred to—which are insolvent. Of course the Minister and his Government are getting afraid of the day that something terrible will happen in this country, and we want to go on now and prevent the compensation of those men who have given years of hard work in the building up of those companies, and the employees who have left the service of other companies to go into those Irish companies, mainly on the propaganda carried on by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Government during the last eight or nine years, in order to build up what they say are purely Irish companies in conformity with the general policy pursued by the present Government. Nobody can get away from that fact.

I am not one of those who ever claimed to be as Irish as the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or any member of that Government opposite. I am not supposed to be an Irishman at all, of course. We always had very Imperialistic interests and we were always full of Imperialist ideas, but still as an Irishman I should be slow to give voice to the sentiments expressed in the speech of the Minister for Industry and Commerce here this evening, when he went very far to cast any suspicion he could upon the existing Irish companies of the Free State. Everybody knows and must agree that where, as a result of legislation, a man's livelihood is taken away from him, it is the duty of the Government to make provision for that man. Those companies have not asked for this legislation. They are prepared to carry on in the future as they have been carrying on in the past. They are prepared to pay their employees in the future as they have been paid in the past, and if by any Act of this House those companies are not in a position to do in the future what they have been doing in the past, then I say it is only a matter of justice on the part of this Parliament to pass a law which would enable those people to be compensated for the loss which they will sustain as a result of their means of livelihood being taken away from them.

I never was more amazed than I was this evening when listening to the speech of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He himself will be surprised when he reads it. I do not think the greatest supporter of a British company could make the speech that the Minister for Industry and Commerce made here this evening. It was a speech in defence of what I might call the foreign companies. As he himself says, in effect: "I do not care about the shareholders, I do not care about anything—I am going to defend the policy-holders." It is fine compensation and fine thanks that those men, who have spent so many years in building up Irish insurance companies, are getting now from the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I think it is very little thanks that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is giving to all the agents of those companies who assisted him during the last general election and during the previous general election and who helped to put into power a Government that, to-day, is going to take away their means of livelihood from those men. It is a fact—and no man knows it better than the Minister for Agriculture—that the agents of the New Ireland Assurance Company, of the Munster and Leinster Assurance Company and the other assurance companies were the best canvassers for him and his Party throughout the length and breadth of this land in the last general election and the previous general election; and these men are now going to be thrown overboard and their means of livelihood taken away by the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

I do not care three straws, as the Minister for Industry and Commerce said in effect this evening, about the shareholders. I am concerned with the interests of the policy holders, many of whom, as a result of the propaganda carried on by the Government and by members of the Government Party, were induced to transfer their policies from good solvent English insurance companies to certain Irish insurance companies. Now, after all those years, those people are going to be deprived of their livelihood. I say, without fear of contradiction, that it is up to the Government, and especially the Government now in power, to see to it that, before this Bill leaves this House, a section or clause will be incorporated in the Bill safeguarding the means of livelihood of those men who will lose their employment as a result of this Bill if it remains as it stands.

I could not get the hang of what Deputy Davin was saying at all, because, apparently, Deputy Davin has completely lost track of this discussion. Our position is perfectly clear, and that is that we are in favour of the principle of compensation, but that we are not in favour of saddling the amalgamated companies with the cost of it—for two reasons: first, that it may smash the amalgamated company, thereby disemploying all the people who are working in that company; and secondly, because, if it were by way of annuity, it would result in the annuitants losing their annuity because the company would be forced into liquidation through its inability to pay. I do not mention the policy-holders in that connection, because I think the companies would go into liquidation before an insolvency was upon them that would force them to give the policy-holders less than the actuarial value of their several policies. Deputy Davin, however, is following a very dangerous line if he is going to lead the Labour Party down the alley of saying that compensation for the disemployed employees must be levied on the companies. I warn him now that, if he follows that line, not only will he do the employees out of their compensation, but he will shake the whole foundation of the existing Irish insurance companies. Now, I ask Deputy Davin to inquire into that situation before he pursues the line that he has been advocating in this House any longer. If there is going to be compensation for redundant employees levied on the Irish insurance companies there will not be a single Irish insurance company left in this country in the next ten years, with the exception, perhaps, of the Hibernian Fire and Accident Insurance Company, which does not do life or industrial assurance.

What about the New Ireland Assurance Company?

Well, I do not like to mention any names, but I say that if adequate compensation for redundant employees is going to be levied on the Irish companies, then I can see no fund to which they can turn in order to provide that.

What about the increased business they will have?

Deputy Davin is on the wrong track. There is no monopoly here. There is no question of giving a monopoly here. You have got the Pearl Insurance Company, the Prudential, the Norwich Union, the Royal Liver—dozens of great life and industrial assurance companies operating still in this country and perfectly free to go on operating The amalgamated companies that are going to be established as a result of this Bill are going to have formidable and ferocious competition to meet just as in the past, and all that this Bill is going to do is to make them solvent as on the date of the amalgamation. This Bill will not eliminate any competition or will not make the competition lighter than it was before. Deputy Davin, however, does not seem to be able to get that into his head.

Will they not take over the business of the insolvent companies?

In the name of common sense, of what value will that be to them?

It will mean a reduction of overhead charges by the reducing of staffs and so on.

And what about the loan by the Minister as his contribution in exchange for the ordinary shares? Of course, the Deputy has not examined the problem.

Surely it is not a loan.

Which? The Minister's contribution?

The Minister's contribution is going to be a loan in exchange for the ordinary shares, and no penny of interest can be paid on the capital of the amalgamated company until a sum is built up adequate to meet the amount of the money advanced by the Minister in exchange for the ordinary shares, and if a company that had an actuarial deficiency of 18/- in the £ on its policy claims were taken over by a solvent company, the Minister would have to take over the amount necessary to make the amalgamated company solvent. In my opinion, at any rate—and I know it is the opinion of others—the amalgamated company would not be free to pay one penny of interest on its ordinary shares until such time as it had accumulated a reserve sufficient to meet the amount of money subscribed by the Minister.

Is not the solvency of that company guaranteed by the Minister from the time of the amalgamation?

I do not think it is guaranteed under amendment No. 9.

No, Sir. However, I warn Deputy Davin that he is barking up a mighty dangerous tree if he is trying to put this on to the Irish insurance companies, because the net result is that he is going to do the employees of these companies out of the compensation they are entitled to get.

If it goes into this Bill, they cannot be deprived of the compensation.

They will be done out of it. How can they get compensation from a fund that does not exist? You can pass this Bill or any Act of Parliament you like, but if the money is not there you cannot give it to anybody. Possibly, the Minister for Agriculture will pass an Act of Parliament in a short time to get meat-juice out of turnips. He can get the Act of Parliament passed, but he will not be able to do it. The Deputy may think that, by legislating to get blood out of a turnip, he will be able to do so, but he will not be able to do it because there is no blood in the turnip to get out.

That is schoolboys' talk.

It is not. It is the literal truth, and if the Minister for Agriculture had the courage to intervene in this debate—and, of course, he will not do so, because he would be afraid of the Minister for Industry and Commerce—he would tell Deputy Davin very much what I am telling him now, which is that——

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy has a wholesome fear of the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

——if there is no money in the Irish insurance company to provide for a fund of the kind Deputy Davin has in mind, it cannot be provided by the company. The Minister for Industry and Commerce asked for a clear statement from the Opposition as to where we stand on the principle of compensation. The Minister loves to call for these clear statements from his opponents, but he is very reluctant to give them himself. I want to be quite clear with the Minister on this matter. We stand for compensation for any person who loses his employment as a result of the operations of this Bill. The Minister whacked the desk and asked if an insolvent company was wound up were they to be concerned? The whole object of the Bill is to avoid wiping them out. If an insolvent company is wound up I ask the Deputies to remember that the policy-holders are going to suffer. Suppose we wind up an insolvent company to-morrow and there is an actuarial deficit of 10/- in the £, the policy-holders are only going to get 8/- in the £ out of what they are actuarially entitled to. The whole object of this legislation is to avoid winding up. and if the only effect is to wipe out a company and to leave the policy-holders to carry the baby, this legislation is going to be of no effect at all. We all know perfectly well that there are insurance companies in this country which are insolvent. We all know that the object of this legislation is to prevent these insurance companies crashing.

It is right that at this stage the public should be informed that the reason for this legislation is because there are insurance companies of such kind and that if they did crash the State would have to come to their assistance. The whole position of these insurance companies is such that we could not possibly allow them to go crash. Let us be clear on that. There are numbers of persons in very responsible positions in this State intimately associated with these companies. There are numbers of persons in very responsible positions who urged the people in the name of patriotism to put their money into these companies, and rightly I think the State has consistently taken the view since it was founded in 1922—not since Fianna Fáil came into office— that if all went to all it would have to come in to save a crash, if a crash threatened. With that in mind, companies that were insolvent years ago have been allowed to carry on, and I think rightly allowed to carry on, because it was felt that there was a chance they would pull themselves together, and come out of the wood as all the big insurance companies in Great Britain have done in their day. Not a single one of the big insurance companies in Great Britain was solvent within a decade of its foundation; they were all insolvent, and they all came back to solvency and to the prosperity that they now enjoy, through a period of great difficulty and great doubt.

Are they all solvent?

I am talking of the great insurance companies, and I say that not a single one of them but was insolvent in the early years of its existence. They have all attained mighty wealth after having gone through a period of difficulty. Irish insurance companies were admittedly insolvent, and I believe some of them are still insolvent. I believe some have been insolvent for the last eight or nine years. I think the Government then and the Government now rightly took the view that they ought to be allowed to carry on, always knowing that it would be left to someone else to carry the baby if a catastrophe occurred, hoping all the time that everything would come all right, and that the Government or the State would see that the policy-holders were all right. In pursuing that line they left open the doors of employment with insurance companies to young persons starting out on their careers. It was not for these young fellows who were looking for jobs to assess the solvency or the insolvency of any company with which they could get a job. They took the jobs, built up their books, and many of them are now married and settled in life. It was the policy of the State to allow these companies to continue to function long after they might legitimately have been wound up for insolvency. Are the young persons who were invited by the State's complacency to go into these jobs to be sacrificed now because the companies have become insolvent? They were insolvent eight years ago, and if wound up then boys who went into that business would never have gone into it, but would have prepared themselves for other walks of life or made jobs for themselves. They did not do so, because they believed that if the companies were allowed to carry on they were solvent companies. They are now faced with the situation that they have accepted responsibilities of one kind or another on the strength of the jobs they got. Consequently these men are entitled to compensation. That is my position as regards insolvent companies. In regard to Irish companies, a most peculiar situation arises. We deliberately, and in my opinion properly, tolerated their insolvency in the hope that in time they would come all right. We must now accept responsibility for that, and recognise that this legislation is designed to put Irish insurance on a solid foundation, to make a clean sweep of insecurity and doubt, and the foreseeable possibility of collapse, and that we are going to make sure that any casualties that arise will be adequately and properly looked after.

The Deputy said that he stands for compensation for any employee who loses his employment as a result of this Bill. If we were to withdraw the licence from a foreign company on the ground that it is insolvent, will the Deputy suggest that we should compensate its employees in the Saorstát?

I think it is extremely difficult to envisage the contingency the Minister mentioned ever arising.

One that might arise.

If the Minister asks me if a foreign company becomes insolvent and is compulsorily wound up——

Prohibited from carrying on business here.

The licence withdrawn.

——I find it difficult to answer that question without reflection. We may invent new difficulties and new troubles in order to put artificial obstacles in the way of compensating employees who are going to be made redundant by this Bill, but I am not going to commit myself to deciding every point the Minister raises at this stage, because I have not submitted any comprehensive scheme for compensation.

Might I remind the Deputy that what he said was that he stands for compensation for any employee who loses his employment as a result of this Bill?

Is the Deputy qualifying that statement now?

Not through the operation of the Bill in future.

Deputy McGilligan is qualifying the statement for him.

No. It is a sound statement to do it in that way.

My belief is that we should clear the ground as far as is foreseeable to secure ourselves against future catastrophe, and in the process of doing that, in my opinion, the casualties should be compensated. If the Minister wants to make an imbecile or idiotic point, as to whether we should make provision for people for whom it may be necessary in two or three years, I do not think that point relevant. Naturally, a line is drawn beyond which the impact of the Bill is not to operate. These are details for which to devise a scheme to carry that out. This has been clearly explained by those defending the principle and it is silly to drag in fortuitous difficulties which cannot arise and artificial cases which have no real existence in the problem which confronts us at present. That disposes of compulsory winding up. The Minister went on to imply that the only real redundancy that could arise would be as a result of insolvent companies being wound up, and their business terminated. He deliberately sought to veil the provisions of Section 12 (4), where a perfectly solvent company is operating life, industrial life, fire or accident. The Minister says to that company, "Divide your business into two. Either sell the life business or dispose of the fire and accident business." A company which is perfectly solvent, and able to carry on a reasonably comfortable business with one head office, might find the situation entirely different if it was obliged to dispose of half of its business to someone else. It might then find that the only hope of maintaining itself in the solvent condition it was in when the Minister sought to interfere, was by amalgamation with some other company. It is forced by the operation of this Bill into amalgamation. When it amalgamates the principle of economy in the expense ratio is going to result in a reduction of the staff. I say these people are entitled to compensation. I suggest that their unemployment has been precipitated by the action of the Minister. What is going to happen in regard to this Bill, as far as amalgamation proposals are going to operate, and indeed in all human probability in so far as the compulsory winding-up will operate, is that they are going to use those parts of the Bill for the purpose of clearing the ground immediately after its passage, but having been once used ordinarily they should never be used again, because there will be close surveillance and immediate warnings, and precautions can be taken long before an insurance company approaches the position of insolvency. That is the whole object of this Bill. There might happen to be drastic work undertaken immediately the Bill becomes law, and it is on that occasion I want the casualties to be properly looked after.

I want to emphasise what Deputy Dillon has said in one respect. The Minister has made an amazing statement here, contrary to what he said on Second Reading, that there is not likely to be much unemployment or disemployment caused by this measure. When he was closing on Second Reading, after the particular matter had been discussed here, he said: "There are too many people employed in the industry at the present time to permit of its being conducted on sound lines." Later he talked about the burden that would be cast upon an amalgamated company by reason of excessive staffs. He tells us now that amalgamation will not take place under his authority or through his compulsion, and that whatever redundancy takes place under these amalgamations should be left to these amalgamations to clean up for themselves. I think the answer to that is that this House should deal with that matter, that this House should lay down conditions regarding compensation which should be part of the terms of amalgamation when these matters do arise. The Minister has made the amazing statement with regard to Section 12 that it is likely to increase work. That is on the lines of the Spanish-oranges-and-eggs type of story. We can leave that to his telling. There is nobody going to believe it, and it is not worth arguing about it.

The special point, which the Minister has made, which requires consideration is this matter of insolvent companies. It may seem to be an equitable suggestion that if a business fails because it is not able to keep up with the strain of competition, then there should be no provision made for those cast out of work, that you do not in the ordinary way of business deal with it but take it as a necessary happening. There were companies, as has been pointed out, started here under a particular impulse. They were kept going here because of the strength and the enthusiasm of these impulses. When these companies were looked into by the first Government that came to investigate them here, the situation was seen to be a pretty bad one, and although there was a danger facing the continuance of these companies, that danger or risk was accepted and accepted exactly on the terms to which Deputy Dillon has referred. These companies were so definitely bound up with a particular movement, with a particular surge in Irish affairs, that whatever we might say of their weakness, if any of them came near the point of collapse it would be a matter of State intervention.

Whatever good points there might be behind the continuance of these weak companies in the hope of nursing them into a proper financial condition, it was no answer, say to some dozen or 100 assured people who came within the grip of these weak insurance companies 10 or 15 years ago, that they should have been wound up and the only answer that could be given was that the resources of the State were behind them. Transfer that argument to the case of the employees and they are in exactly the same position. The companies were allowed to carry on and these men entered their employment. If the axe had been allowed to fall when the neck was ripe for the block, these people would not have been diverted to that type of employment. They are entitled to the same consideration as the shareholders.

The Minister referred to this as though it were a matter of a business concern falling by the wayside. That same phrase entering into another Minister's head about 1923 or 1924 would have produced from the present Minister then the fiercest indignation and tirades. Anybody armed with the powers of the English insurance commissioner about the year 1925 and who proposed to cut out four or five Irish companies, for that reason would have been regarded as a traitor to the best interests of the country and would have been maligned by nobody more than the present Minister—speaking in ignorance, of course. He would have condemned it resoundingly and vehemently. The employees are exactly in the same position as the shareholders. Are they not deserving of the same consideration? They are not to be cast aside as a separate company that could not stand the stress of the times. Again, these are people who could not have had any knowledge themselves of the danger they were in, because a lot of the difficulties surrounding these companies have not been something that the employees might have seen. There has been some overcrowding in the ranks of those employed in the insurance companies, but a certain amount of their difficulties arose from a bad investment policy. If, however, anybody had classed it as a bad investment policy five years ago, he himself would have been classed as definitely unpatriotic for giving expression to such a statement. The impact of this Bill on insurance is one that is going to lead to redundancy because the situation undoubtedly is that there are too many people employed in the insurance business. If the licence is to be withdrawn and if no term of years is to be put upon it, but that it is to be withdrawn simply because of insolvency, what is going to happen? Is it because it is found insolvent hereafter or now? In the case of the Railways Bill, a period of seven years was fixed within which there would have to be compensation for any redundancy arising out of the amalgamation. Deputy Davin then criticised the limitation that was put upon the period during which compensation would be paid on redundancy but it was thought, at any rate, that any redundancy as a result of the amalgamation would have shown itself within that period.

I argued that it could be deliberately deferred by the company, and it did happen.

The Deputy did prophesy that it would happen, but I do not know whether it did. The Minister speaks of the licence being withdrawn from a foreign company because it is insolvent. If he means one that is now insolvent, I put it in the same position as an Irish company. It was allowed to carry on. There was no reason for allowing a foreign company to carry on if it could have been shown to be insolvent. If it was a company that at one time had been a native company, and had been bought out, then peculiar considerations would apply, or if there was some interlocking between it and a native company somewhat the same considerations would apply. If it refers to an outside or English company, after the Bill has its first impact on the company, then I think there is no case for compensation. The State has had its interactions on the whole matter, and we will have seen what the results may be. I do not think that there is any analogy at all between the company whose certificate is withdrawn because of something in the Bill, and one which should have been declared insolvent a few years ago.

Will every company not be conducting its business under a special certificate?

A certificate of solvency? I do not think so.

Will it not be conducting its business in the future under a licence?

I do not see how that would have any effect. The licence will be given to people, to start with, but the licence does not carry an assurance that the company is going to continue to be solvent. It takes its chance. The Minister will say it gets a better chance. If it fails——

It will be the moral responsibility of the Government.

By no means, and, therefore, there should be no compensation. But it is redundancy about which I am speaking. The redundancy is brought about by the action of the Government in the interest, in the main, of the insured people. There is undoubtedly a case for compensation in those circumstances, and we have always accepted that principle. I do not know of any measure by which people were put out of employment, whether directly under the Bill or by the Minister saying: "There are to be amalgamations, and I foresee that that will mean redundancy," or by the Minister giving power to a group, established by him, to take over the business of other people, in which that principle was not accepted. The Electricity Supply Board were not forced to take over any concerns. They were given the power to do so. They were practically a Government concern and they were huge monopolists. They were told that one of the conditions in taking over the businesses of others was that they should compensate employees of a certain type. No point was ever made in this House, and it cannot be made now retrospectively, that the principle which operated in the minds of people who voted for compensation in previous years was whether or not the businesses to be acquired were solvent or insolvent.

Deputy Davin referred to the railway companies. One might have a certain delicacy in referring to the railway companies a few years ago, but, speaking now, there can be no delicacy in alluding to their position. In 1924 they represented themselves —it was not what was said about them, but what they said—as insolvent. The situation with regard to the railway companies was that the whole country was clamouring to get the rates, which were 150 per cent. over the pre-war rates, reduced. The attitude of the companies was that, although they knew the retention of the high rates was driving business from them, any attempt to lower them was going to make them completely insolvent.

What does "solvency" mean in relation to a railway concern?

The Minister was not here when Deputy Davin raised this question. I say, in reply to his question, that a solvent railway company is one which can pay dividends on its stock. So far was that from being the case that, when the Minister came to the aid of the railway company in 1933, he reduced their stock to one-tenth of what it previously was and made the case that that meant no difference because they had not been paying even on one-tenth. Having brought the railway company to the position in which the debenture-holders could have come in and closed down on the property, the company being so completely insolvent, the Minister interfered with the debenture-holders' rights and prevented them from exercising them in the legal way, as well as reducing the value of that property. Then, he tells us that, by analogy, that was a solvent concern. I do not agree with the Deputy about the bus concerns. The Deputy may disagree with the results, as found, but the terms of reference were clear. People were to be compensated for pecuniary loss. You could not find that there was pecuniary loss if a man had been making a loss when he was in the business.

The owners of the so-called insolvent companies got big compensation.

Not the owners of insolvent companies.

The so-called insolvent companies.

The facts showed that they were not insolvent.

They called themselves insolvent to the Minister.

Not even to the present Minister. They represented that they would be insolvent if certain cut-throat competition were allowed to continue.

The ex-Minister knows well what they said.

I know that, through the stress of cut-throat competition, certain of these companies went to the wall and what had to be cleared up was the cream of the whole lot. The people who had to be compensated were the people who had risen to the top in the competition.

The owners of the redundant buses.

They may have been redundant buses but they were able to make profits for their owners. The basis on which compensation was given to these people was the profit which they were able to show, by the accounts, they had been deprived of. The employees were, at any rate, given something. I do agree that any of them who got over the many hurdles found that the sum was very small. The hurdles were very numerous and hard to get over, but still there was some scheme of compensation. The principle was accepted, while it is not accepted here.

What about the "five-year" hurdle?

The people who were not over five years in that employment were ruled out by the Act. That was accepted by the majority in this House. If a man was not in the job for five years he was not thought to be in the industry long enough to qualify for compensation. This measure is on all fours with most of the measures about which different members of the Dáil and different Parliaments took exactly the same view. If, by State action, people are driven out of employment, whether directly by the Bill or because of powers given to certain people by the Bill, compensation should be provided for. If there is going to be no unemployment, the Minister is right in saying that the clause will never be put into operation. But the House has always guarded itself against the plea of injustice by associating with all these confiscation or amalgamation measures clauses with regard to compensation. There may have been hurdles to be got over and the compensation may have been small but we have always salved our consciences, when we brought in measures here providing for State intervention and feared that the field of employment might be encroached upon, by providing for compensation.

I should have liked to discuss further the question as to who should bear the burden of compensation. Deputy Davin has the clear view that this tends towards a monopoly. I do not see any monopoly in regard to this matter. It may come later but it will not come in the period during which compensation should be paid. This will not be a question of pensions; it will be a question of gratuities or lump-sum payments. I do not think you can put it on all the companies left in existence. There will be a considerable amount of competition to be faced—and a good thing, too. There is nothing in the way of a monopoly. That being the situation, if the State is responsible for disemployment, even if the State is under suspicion of being responsible, or under the suspicion of bringing about a remotely possible situation in which people will be put out of employment, then the State ought to include in the Bill a clause which will become operative only if and when redundancy occurs through its activities or the activities of people given power by this measure to produce redundancy.

In the course of his speech of about half-an-hour ago, the Minister said he was anxious to know the principle on which this Party was standing in reference to this question of compensation to employees. I shall give it to him in one sentence—a sentence out of his own speech on Second Reading:—

"It is my intention that persons who are dependent for their livelihoods on insurance employment, and who are affected by this measure will be fairly dealt with."

That is the principle on which we stand and that quotation is from the Minister's own speech. The Minister endeavoured to avoid giving the principle on which he stood. Having tried to side-track the issue by reference to the details of Deputy Lynch's amendment, he ultimately came down to three points—(1) that he would pay no compensation to any employee of an insolvent company; (2) if amalgamation took place he would put the burden of compensation on the amalgamated companies, and (3) that there would be no necessity to give compensation to any employees because, if partition took place in the businesses of insurance companies, there would be no unemployment by reason of the partition. I understood that the Minister's arguments boiled down into these three points. That means that, unless and until there is a scheme of amalgamation, there is to be no provision for dealing fairly with employees. It is only in that state of affairs that the Minister will intervene.

I do not know if I have entirely misread this Bill. I agree with what the Minister has iterated and reiterated, that there are no provisions in this Bill for compulsory amalgamation. The Minister thinks that there may be compulsory amalgamation of Irish insurance companies. I am not sufficiently in touch with the concerns of Irish insurance companies to say whether or not that is so. The Minister thinks there will be amalgamation. So far as my knowledge goes, I think there will not. Then, Irish companies will be thrown back on Section 12. What is the position under Section 12? If this Bill is passed in its present form, no insurance company, British or Irish, can carry on a composite business. Some offices carried on a life business, including industrial assurance and general insurance—accident, fire, burglary and all the rest. Once this Bill comes into force, a company must, as I read the provisions of the measure, decide whether it will carry on for the future its life business or its general business. It cannot do both.

As most companies will elect to carry on their life business, they are then left with something which they have built up for some period of years. It may or may not be an asset. Whether it is an asset or not it is there. There are some employees who have been concerned in the working of that branch of their business. What is to become of them? That company is going to carry on the life business; it is going to drop the other. It is going either to unload it on some other company which is to carry it on, or leave it drop—leaving it to some other companies to collect that business without giving any purchase price to the company that built it up. Whether any company is going to purchase this, or whether any company can be got to purchase it, or whether the business is going to be left there at large for other companies to take it up, without paying any purchase price, there is, in either event, bound to be unemployment, because if a company takes it up having purchased it from the company which dropped it, then that new company will probably be in a position to carry it on without taking on to their staff one additional person. If any company does not take it up, there is in either event bound to be considerable unemployment as a result.

I cannot see how the Minister can say that the situation created by Section 12 causes no trouble under this Bill. The Minister says that it is extremely unlikely that unemployment will result. On the contrary, I think it is extremeuy likely that unemployment must result. I cannot at all follow the Minister in coming to the conclusion he comes to, that no unemployment will be caused through this measure. Unemployment is bound to be caused in the way I have pointed out. As I understood him, Deputy Davin is in favour personally of compensation. The Deputy rather inclines to the view that something along the lines of Deputy Finian Lynch's amendment should meet the case, or that the amalgamating companies should bear the burden. The principle that is operating in the Deputy's mind is that whoever gets benefit from this Bill should pay the cost of the compensation. If there is no amalgamation, as is very likely under this Bill, then who is to bear the cost of the unemployment that will ensue from the operation of the partition of the business? Nobody. Deputy Lynch suggests the details of a scheme. His suggestions and his details for carrying them out do not commend themselves to me. We take up the position that because the State has interfered with the business of insurance in this country the cost of that should be borne by the State, because we feel that nothing but disadvantage is coming to the Irish companies or the British companies through the operations of this Bill.

There is one advantage from the Bill. There is a problem to be met and to be dealt with by this Bill—a problem we do not want to dwell upon—the problem of the insolvent companies. So far as an effort is being made by this Bill to deal with that problem then that is something that is to be done in the public interest. Nobody wants that business. Who wants to bear the burden of some insolvent company? What is the business worth? Who is going to buy an insolvent business as a business proposition? If these insolvent companies are to be transferred to other Irish companies that business is going to be forced on them directly or indirectly. Nobody is going to take that business gratuitously. What does the Bill do? It interferes with all of that business. The Bill interferes with the British insurance companies and foreign companies doing business here. The British and foreign companies who are carrying on business here do not want the Bill; they want to be let alone. As regards the Irish insurance companies, I am aware that, before this Bill was brought in, they wanted and had some reason to expect certain benefits from this Government. That was their outlook. They thought that the present Government by reason of their promises and because of their policy in industrial concerns were going to give them something equivalent to tariffs or bounties for their business as Irish industrial concerns. They were under the impression—quite wrongly as it now appears—that they were going to get some benefit under the Bill. But they are getting no benefit. I think I am correctly stating their attitude if I say this: that as they have not been getting what they thought they were getting from the present Government, they would prefer to be let alone rather than be interfered with by the Bill. We have then the position that the British companies want to be let alone, and the Irish companies, in default of getting what they expected, want to be let alone. Both groups are seriously interfered with by this Bill.

In whose interests then is it being introduced? As I gathered from the Minister's statement it is being introduced in the interests of the policy-holders—in other words a section of the public. Deputy Davin himself to-day used the phrase—I think I have taken him down correctly—"This Bill is saving the insurance population from themselves." That is what this Bill is doing. It is preventing certain Irish concerns going insolvent and thereby bringing discredit on this country and discredit on business in general. It is protecting the policy-holders, according to Deputy Davin, from the dangers of these insolvent companies. According to the Minister the primary purpose of this Bill is to protect the policy-holders.

Therefore, the persons who will be getting benefit from this measure are the public, or a big section of the public, and not the companies whose business is being interfered with, whether they are British or Irish. There is, therefore, no case to put the burden of paying compensation on either the companies, whether they are British or Irish concerns, or on the policy-holders for that matter. If there is to be compensation, and we and apparently everybody except the Government think that there should be compensation for any persons who may be disemployed as a result of the operation of this measure, then the logical conclusion should be that the persons who benefit by it should pay for its operation. The persons who will benefit are the public as a whole, and, consequently, I suggest that Deputy Davin, having hit on the right principle, that the persons who are getting benefits from the operation of the measure should pay compensation to the people who are disemployed as a result of its operation, should revise his opinions, disagree with himself and come to the conclusions that we have put forward. It is rather amusing, in one sense, that Deputy Davin, whose Party, perhaps surreptitiously, stands for the socialistic doctrine, should now be arguing very heatedly in this House against the idea of the State paying compensation in these circumstances.

I did not do so.

It is rather amusing to listen to the Deputy arguing in that manner, while others, who may not be in agreement with the policy of State control in every direction, should be asking the Minister to pay compensation out of State funds to the persons who will be disemployed when this measure is put into operation. Apparently, Deputy Davin and ourselves are now in full agreement on the principle of compensation. On the details we have, perhaps, disagreed, but now that his attention has been directed along proper channels, perhaps he will see his way to agree with the main arguments which we put forward.

The Minister asks us to state clearly what is our principle in relation to this question of compensation. We want that persons who are dependent for their livelihood on insurance employment and are affected by this measure will be fairly dealt with. Those are the Minister's own words, and we use them to state our principle on this question of compensation.

I merely intervene now because statements made by me on the Second Reading have been quoted twice out of their context. The statement that Deputy Costello has quoted clearly relates only to the amalgamation provisions of the Bill. I was then dealing with the amalgamation provisions of the Bill and, in relation to them, I made that statement, that persons who are dependent for their livelihood on insurance employment and are affected by this measure will be fairly dealt with.

There is nothing about amalgamation in that sentence.

I will read the whole paragraph. The Deputy is not quoting from the Official Debates, but from a pamphlet issued by insurance agents—I happen to have a copy of it. In column 1721 of the Parliamentary Debates I am reported:—

"It has been suggested that amalgamation may result in the wholesale dismissal of staffs of the amalgamating companies, but this suggestion is entirely without foundation. I do not think that the provisions of this Bill will result in any number of persons losing employment, and it is my intention that persons who are dependent for their livelihoods on insurance employment and who are affected by the measure will be fairly dealt with."

There is some more in the paragraph, but it is clear that the reference relates to the amalgamation proposals. Deputy McGilligan quoted me from the same pamphlet as saying that the question of the redundancy of staff is not an important consideration. The full sentence reads:—

"The industry as at present conducted is peculiar in this respect, that it is under no necessity to restrict the number of persons who can at any time be taken on as agents, since they may be paid wholly or mainly by commission, and the question of redundancy of staff is not an important consideration for the company."

What is the point of that?

Merely that I was misquoted.

Assuming that the Minister was misquoted and to the extent he says the sentence that I quoted from him, and which I again say embodies the principle for which we stand, is entirely divorced from its context. Assuming again that it only relates to amalgamation, will he deal with the point that I have put, that, irrespective of amalgamation, the partitioning of staffs in itself is bound inevitably to lead to a considerable number of persons being put out of employment?

Is the Deputy concerned with the staffs employed by the Saorstát companies or the staffs employed by all the companies?

I am concerned at the moment with the staffs employed by the Saorstát companies. I am assuming that this thing will not affect British companies.

Certainly it will affect British companies.

Then I am concerned with all companies, Saorstát and British.

The Deputy suggests that when this State, for the protection of its own citizens, enacts legislation to provide that companies doing insurance business here should do it on a certain basis, that foreign companies doing business on a different basis, who are made to conform to our law, should be put in this position, that if the change results in any disemployment amongst their staff, the taxpayers of this country are to be made responsible for whatever amount is involved in compensation. That is an amazing proposal.

It may be, but the Minister's statement is still more amazing. There are large numbers of Saorstát citizens employed by British insurance companies in this country. Large numbers of people gain their livelihoods from that business. Large numbers of Saorstát citizens are keenly and vitally interested in the business carried on by the British insurance companies. The Minister must remember that we are only a State for the last 12 years, and a lot of Irish people put money into British insurance companies when there were no Irish companies. Apart altogether from that, I think, as a matter of pure justice, that when the Legislature interferes in the operations of an insurance company, whether British, Irish, Czecho-Slovakian or anything else, that has been lawfully carrying on its business here, deliberately and with the consent of the Legislature of this country, for a considerable number of years, and in strict accordance with the ordinary principles of private international law, there ought to be compensation.

Does that apply to insurance companies only?

It applies as a general principle to any interference on the part of the State.

If, for instance, we put a tariff on boots and shoes imported here in order to protect the native industry, and a commercial traveller engaged by a foreign firm is disemployed in consequence, should that commercial traveller be compensated by the State?

Even though he is an Irish national?

We have made our position in relation to these tariffs abundantly clear. Very grave hardship has been caused by the Minister's economic and industrial policy in this connection, and in ordinary justice he ought to compensate.

Does the Deputy suggest State compensation for commercial travellers and so forth?

We have pointed out on numerous occasions that the Minister's policy has been carried on to the detriment of many Irish nationals.

The policy of the Party opposite seems to be developing very rapidly.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 26; Níl, 40.

  • Bourke, Séamus
  • Broderick, William Joseph
  • Burke, James Michael
  • Byrne, Alfred
  • Coburn, James
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius
  • Davin, William
  • Desmond, William
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan
  • Fagan, Charles
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare)
  • Keating, John
  • Lynch, Finian
  • McGilligan, Patrick
  • McMenamin, Daniel
  • Mulcahy, Richard
  • O'Higgins, `Thomas Francis
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary
  • Rice, Vincent
  • Wall, Nicholas


  • Aiken, Frank
  • Bartley, Gerald
  • Beegan, Patrick
  • Blaney. Neal
  • Boland, Gerald
  • Brady, Brian
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Concannon, Helena
  • Corbett, Edmond
  • Crowley, Timothy
  • Derrig, Thomas
  • Doherty, Hugh
  • Flynn, Stephen
  • Fogarty, Andrew
  • Gibbons, Seán
  • Harris, Thomas
  • Houlihan, Patrick
  • Kelly, James Patrick
  • Kelly, Thomas
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph
  • Kilroy, Michael
  • Kissane, Eamonn
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander
  • Moane, Edward
  • Moore, Séamus
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh
  • O'Grady, Seán
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew
  • Rice, Edward
  • Ryan, James
  • Ryan, Martin
  • Sheridan, Michael
  • Smith, Patrick
  • Traynor, Oscar
  • Victory, James
  • Walsh, Richard
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies P.S. Doyle and McMenamin; Níl: Deputies Little and Smith.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 not moved.
The following amendment appeared on the Order Paper in the names of Deputy Norton and Deputy T. J. Murphy:—
12. Before Section 6 to insert the following new section:—
Every regulation made by the Minister under this Act shall be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas within seven days after it is made if the Oireachtas be then sitting, or if the Oireachtas be not then sitting within seven days after the then next sitting of the Oireachtas and shall on being delivered to the Clerk of either House become operative; provided, however, if a resolution is passed by either House of the Oireachtas within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat annulling such regulation, such regulation shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under such regulation.

I take it that amendment No. 12 is not being moved.

Is the Minister giving an undertaking to lay every regulation on the Table?

On amendment No. 8 I pointed out that the only matters to be prescribed are matters of form and that none is of sufficient importance to justify this procedure of laying on the Table. They are such matters as applications for licences, for the alteration or revocation of licences, and some other matters of that sort. They do not relate to matters of substance.

I may tell Deputy Davin that I informed the Minister that they were not matters of form but that they were matters of substance.

As Deputy Davin knows, my opinion is a lot better than that of Deputy Costello's.

Did the Minister see what a man named Morgan had to say of his opinion in the Press this morning? He did not think much of it.

Notwithstanding that, my opinion is still better than the Deputy's.

This amendment was given very favourable consideration by the members of our Party, and it was felt that the Minister, who was asking for very drastic powers, should be obliged to lay on the Table——

When amendment No. 8 was moved, it was suggested by the Chair that, if no objection was taken, Nos. 8 and 12, being similar in principle, could be debated together. Unfortunately, no Deputy moved No. 12, but the discussion ranged over both. However, the Deputy is entitled to a decision on it.

I am sorry; I happened to be called out of the House to the telephone at the time.

There was a division taken on it.

On No. 8, but was there a distinction made between No. 8 and No. 12?

They were discussed together.

The decision was obviously taken on one only.

But the contention put forward by Deputy Costello and Deputy Dillon was that if I was not prepared to accept the principle of No. 8, I should accept the principle of No. 12, and, on that basis, I argued against the acceptance of either.

And the House divided on No. 8, which is against having regulations operative until approved of by the Dáil. There is, however, something more or something less in No. 12.

That is quite so. The point put by the Chair was that, as these amendments were the same in principle, they could both be discussed simultaneously, with separate decisions if claimed. That suggestion was accepted by the House. The Deputy is, however, entitled to put amendment No. 12 now. To reopen the debate that took place on No. 8 would not be proper procedure.

I want to say that the debate did not take very long, because it was the only period I was absent from the House since business commenced at 3 o'clock. I was only absent for a short period, but that is the reason why I was not aware of the ruling, if you can call it a ruling, given by you, Sir. If you say that I am not entitled to initiate a discussion on the merits of the amendment——

The Chair will hear Deputy Davin. The discussion, however, should be brief, as the point has already been debated.

The Deputy was out of the House.

For only a very short period.

Half an hour.

I was called to the telephone. As I say, this is a matter which was given careful consideration by the members of this Party, and it is a matter on which we feel fairly strongly. I should like to hear from the Minister his reasons for not accepting the amendment. If the regulations to be made are of such minor importance as the Minister suggests, I do not see what great objection he can have to putting these regulations on the Table of the House for discussion, if necessary, in the House.

As I explained before, the only matters to be prescribed in the Bill are matters of form.

Will you give us the sections?

I propose to do so. The regulations will provide for items of administration which are of no importance in relation to the provisions of the measure. Under other Acts we have power by regulation to provide for various steps which might be regarded as having relation to legislation, but that does not arise on this Bill. In fact, I invite the Deputy, as I invited the Deputies opposite, to indicate the particular sections in the Bill under which power to prescribe the various matters in respect of which they think this overriding safeguard is required. Under Section 11 we take power to prescribe the form and manner of an application for an assurance licence, the information to be supplied by the applicant and the fees to be paid.

Is that all that is in the section?

The form and manner of the application and information——

"And such other particulars as may be prescribed."

The information that is to be given.

The colour of the employee's eyes.

Under Section 11, we take power to prescribe the form and manner——

Where is that?

"Every application under this section for an assurance licence shall be in the prescribed form and be made in the prescribed manner, and shall state the class or classes of assurance business which the assurance company making such application proposes to carry on, together with such other particulars as may be prescribed."

The last phrase widens it.

That is merely the information to be given by the applicant.

"Such other particulars" would surely include information as to how the employees were to be dealt with?

No; this is an application for a licence. It has nothing to do with amalgamations or revocations or anything else like that.

It will have a bearing on it.

No; it has no connection with the question of employees. Under Section 16, the form of the assurance licence is to be prescribed; under Section 19, the form and manner of applications for the alteration or revocation of a licence are to be prescribed; under Section 63, the form of consent to transfer from one company to another; and under Section 67, the application fee to be paid on reference of disputes under that section. These are purely matters of administration.

They are such matters of administration as may lead to a criminal prosecution.

Yes. It says: "guilty of an offence under this section."

In respect of a false statement.

It is leading up to a criminal offence. Is that right or not?

There can be a criminal prosecution if false statements are made.

In regard to these prescribed particulars?

So that a matter which may lead to a prosecution is going to be done by the Minister himself and the House is to know nothing of it?

That is so under the section.

Nobody is compelled to give the information.

If a man wants to get a licence, the Minister may impose on him the rendering to him of certain information, and he may suffer a criminal prosecution as a result of the impact of that section on him.

He may suffer a prosecution if he gives false information.

Within anything the Minister may ask him under that section?

Relevant to the application.

Under that section.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 13:—

Before Section 6 to insert the following new section:—

The Minister shall as soon as possible after the expiration of each year prepare and present to each House of the Oireachtas a report of his proceedings under this Act during such year.

The administration of this Bill when it becomes law will be a matter which will concern the whole of the insurable population of the country and, therefore, warrants, in my opinion, the preparation and circulation in the manner indicated of a yearly report to the Oireachtas and, through the Oireachtas, to the country. I think that Deputies are entitled to ask for the production of such a yearly report and I hope the Minister will see his way to sanction it.

At the present time statements of assurance business deposited by companies under Section 27 of the Act of 1909 in respect of each accounting period are published annually in an official report and presented to each House of the Oireachtas. The publication of that report will be continued in future, and it will set out, in summary form at any rate, the additional returns and statements which are required to be made under this Bill. I think that publication will serve the purpose the Deputy has in mind in moving this amendment.

It will include in future a report on the working of this Bill when it becomes an Act?

It will not.

Statements of assurance business, amplified as they must be, in accordance with the provisions of this Bill, will be published in respect of each accounting period in future as in the past, except that in future more information will be contained in the report.

I put it to the Minister that the intention of the amendment is to secure in the manner indicated, or, if necessary, in some other way, a yearly report on the operations of this Act.

The operations of this Act might cover a multitude of minor things, and I do not think there should be the statutory obligation to publish an annual report in relation to such matters. My information will be statements submitted by the insurance companies. These statements will be published in summary form together with the fuller information for which this Bill provides.

Deputy Davin ought to understand what is at the foot of this opposition to his amendment. Under the 1909 Act the Minister is not bound to make any report upon anything.

It is made every year.

It has not been. It is waste merely to produce the amount of the valuation in the report. The Minister does not get over that by saying that the Act of 1909 gives an abstract of all this in the paper laid before the House. The Minister may make a report. The Deputy wants in his amendment to use the words "shall make a report."

A report is published every year, and it is the intention to continue that.

If that is the intention will it do any harm to change the word "may" into the word "shall"?

The word "may" often means "shall."

The amendment is refused for the reason that it is not thought desirable by the Minister. The Minister has power to lay this report. He has that power from the old Act; and he may add to it, but the Deputy wants the report laid before the House. The Deputy has this good point in this amendment, that whatever the report may be, as long as it proceeds from the Minister, it is ground for debate. If the Minister merely brings in a formal report there is no possibility of debate. If the report discloses things that are of some moment to the public, then, there can be a debate upon it in this House. The virtue of this House is publicity and debate.

Will the Minister say why he refuses to accept the amendment?

Because it goes much further. The amendment asks that we should issue a report of all the proceedings, but some of them are of very trivial importance indeed.

The word "all" is not used in the amendment.

If the Deputy does not mean that we should report on all these proceedings, the amendment should be qualified.

The benefit of the amendment is that the moment the Minister is found to be deficient in his report a debate could be urged upon him.

In my opinion there should not be a statutory obligation to publish the report. The existing practice gives all the information which may be required. The report was published every year, and will continue to be published in the future, subject to this, that more information will be included in the future than in the past.

Will the Minister say what is the ground for his opinion that there should not be a statutory obligation on the Minister to report to the House?

Because of the trouble involved in the keeping of records and the preparation of the report, in relation to the value of the report itself. All the available information the Minister gets is in fact published.

Does that mean that in the case of private citizens only there should be any amount of statutory obligations, particularly in regard to income-tax, but that there should be no obligation upon the Minister, because he is a Minister, and because the collection of information would give some trouble.

Where is the waste and trouble? Records will have to be kept in relation to the returns, and not even the time of the new civil servants would be wasted. The Minister has advanced two concrete arguments against this amendment. One is that this is done, and the other is that it should not be made statutory.

It is done in relation to the important things.

The Minister will not accept the amendment because it would impose upon him the obligation to do what he is now doing, and then there is his argument that it will be far too troublesome.

More than that. The Deputy's amendment says "the Minister shall as soon as possible after the expiration of each financial year" publish a report.

Why not? A good deal of elasticity could be given to the phrase "as soon as possible". The Minister would be up against criticism of the report. But the collation of reports from information supplied takes time. Everybody is patient with regard to such reports. There is no question of taking civil servants away from other urgent duties to prepare this report. The report generally is published, and I do not see why we should not impose the obligation now that there is so much Government departmental direction in these matters. I ask the Minister to qualify what he has said. He said there always is published, not only an abstract of the accounts but also comments by the Minister.

I did not say that.

He said the report from the Board of Trade is published. It often might have been. The fact that there was any report might have awakened people to the importance of insurance. But it is not accurate to say that there has been a report by the Minister on matters referred to in the 1909 Act. Deputy Davin is right in asking that there should be published a report of the proceedings during the year. If that could be joined up with the 1909 Act it would be still more desirable as an amendment.

I think the Minister took an exaggerated view of the amendment. The amendment asks that "the Minister shall as soon as possible after the expiration of each year prepare and present...a report of his proceedings under this Act during such year". That leaves it to the discretion of the Minister, and his advisers, to furnish a report "as soon as possible." There is no fixed date by which the report should be placed before members of the House after the expiration of the particular year. I take the view that the Bill is one of the Bills introduced during the last year that causes a good deal of annoyance to people. It affects agents, and it affects people all over the country. I think the circulation of an annual report would be very likely to have a very good effect from the propaganda point of view upon the people of the country. If the Minister does not furnish this report Deputies will be forced to put down a large number of questions from time to time, with a view to getting information. That could all be avoided if the Minister furnishes this report.

In respect of what portion does the Deputy want that?

In respect of the major operations of the Bill. The report would also reduce the amount of correspondence coming to his Department or to his officials, as well as probably from the insurable public and Deputies, who have no other means of getting information except by correspondence or, finally, by questions to be answered in the House by the Minister. I think the Minister is taking too serious a view of the demand contained in the amendment. I do not think that it would have any greater effect than, probably, engaging the time of one of his officials for a week or two in every year to compile and prepare for printing a report on the lines indicated. The nature of the report is very largely left in the hands of the Minister himself.

I will agree that, in respect of the sections concerning the determination of disputes, it might be desirable to publish information, much the same as information that is at present published concerning appeals under the Unemployment Insurance Act to the Umpire. As Deputies who read the Trade Journal are aware, we periodically publish, without giving such information as will identify the parties, particulars of appeals taken to the Umpire, so that the nature of his decisions will be known and act as a guide to courts of referees, unemployment insurance officers, and the general public in connection with these matters. In relation to these sections dealing with the determination of disputes, the publication of similar information in a similar way might be considered. But even there I do not think there should be a statutory obligation to publish, which is a very onerous matter in relation to a Bill of this kind, because it means not merely an official spending a week preparing a report, but that all the records of the Department dealing with all matters relating to insurance must be so kept that a report of the proceedings taken under the Bill is possible.

Is not that desirable?

It is not desirable. Read the section dealing with the amalgamation of companies. What report do you think could be published under that section? That a particular scheme was received, that certain objections were voiced, that the scheme was amended in a particular way, and again objected to. Does the Deputy think that all that information should be published? These may be part of the Minister's proceedings under the Bill—the most important proceedings under the Bill —but that information could not, I think, very well be made public, except in very rare cases, without very definite damage to particular interests

One of the pieces of information that might be usefully included in this report, if it were published, would be the regulations which the Minister refused just now, through his voting power, to lay before the Dáil.

I have not refused to publish them.

These would be one of the useful pieces of information some of us might want to have and which could be included in this report. The information that is supplied in accordance with Section 27 of the Insurance Companies Act, 1909, so far as I can see, not having any great practical knowledge of the working of that section, is designed for the purpose of preventing any possible information from being given.

That section says that the Board of Trade shall lay annually before Parliament the accounts, balance sheets, abstracts, statements and any other documents under the Act. I could not conceive any collection of documents more calculated to conceal rather than to give information than abstracts, accounts and other documents. The real purpose of Section 27 is not to supply information to Parliament or to the public. The sting is in the last part of Section 27. It is to enable the Board of Trade to extract information from the companies that they do not want to give under the threat that it will be laid as a foot-note to the abstracts and documents that the Board of Trade is reporting to Parliament every year. That is the purpose of the section, in my view—not for the purpose of giving the public any information but for the purpose of extracting information from the insurance companies themselves.

I would not say that that is the purpose, because the whole purpose of the Act was to implement the principle in relation to insurance business of freedom or non-interference, but full publicity. That was the principle of the Act of 1909 and, to a large extent, is the principle of this Bill—to give the companies freedom to operate within certain limits and to ensure that there will be the fullest possible publicity as to their proceedings. These reports, which will be considerably amplified under the provisions of this Bill, will be put in that form every year.

Perhaps I was incorrect in saying that the purpose of Section 27 was as I indicated and that I should say the practical effect is along the lines I indicated.

Will the Minister, on the next Stage, indicate the nature of the extended report which he is prepared to make after the Bill comes into operation?

It will be similar to the present report, except that the information will be amplified, as provided for in the relevant sections to this Bill. In form it will be the same, but the information will be fuller and in a form which will be of greater value to those who study these documents.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 6 put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 7 stand part of the Bill."

I have repeatedly represented to the Government that where sections of Bills are largely legislation by reference memoranda should be circulated with the Bills explaining the nature of the references made. The Minister for Finance has taken the precaution of doing that in connection with certain financial resolutions we have had before us. But, in view of the fact that we are now the solitary representative of the deliberative Oireachtas, I think it is right that we should understand what we are passing in Section 7, which says:

The following portions of the Act of 1909 are hereby repealed as on and from the commencement of Part II of this Act, that is to say, sub-section (2) of Section 28, paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) of Section 31, paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 32, paragraphs (a), (d) and (e) of sub-section (1) of Section 33, and paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 34, and the Eighth Schedule.

I do not believe the Minister or the Attorney-General or any Deputy knows what any of those references are. Then the section goes on:

Section 36 of the Act of 1909 is hereby repealed as on and from the commencement of Part V of this Act.

The following portion of the Act of 1909 is hereby repealed as on and from the commencement of Part VII of this Act, that is to say, in sub-section (1) of Section 3 all words from the words "Provided that" to the end of that sub-section.

The Collecting Societies and Industrial Assurance Companies Act, 1896, is hereby repealed.

Not a single Deputy knows what any of these references mean. I think it is highly desirable, when schedules of that kind are mentioned in a Bill of this character, that a memorandum should accompany the Bill setting out what these references are. Is the Minister in a position to give us in résumé what these appeals represent, what effect they have on the existing law?

The general question about memoranda can be discussed on another occasion. In the main, these repeals are effected because fuller and better provision is being made in this Bill to deal with the particular matters to which these various sections and subsections relate.

Everybody knows that. We all know that the Minister purports to put something in the place of most of what is repealed in the section. But the Minister has carefully refrained from stating that everything here repealed is replaced by something else. For all we know, some of those repeals are alterations in the law without any substituted legislation. The Minister says that better and fuller provision is made. That is a matter of opinion. The purpose of discussion in this House is to make up our minds whether that is true or not. The Minister is impatient of that; he says it is obstruction.

I think Deputies have an obligation to read measures before coming here to discuss them. They should know what they are about before discussing them. When I was in Opposition I would not be caught out like that. I would know what section was being repealed.

You would say you knew it whether you knew it or not.

I recommend that suggestion to Deputy Dillon.

That is the first time to-day the Minister agreed with anything Deputy Costello said.

Deputies are under an obligation to read and carefully consider every Bill put before them, and my submission is that they can do neither one nor the other when a large part of the Bill put before them is legislation by reference.

A large part of the Bill? About .05 per cent. of the Bill?

It is not the business of Deputies—nor can Deputies be reasonably expected to do it unless they are professional politicians with nothing else to do—to take out the Act of 1909 and go through it as this section would require them to go through it, or to take out the Collecting Societies and Industrial Companies Act, 1896, and go through it to find out what its effect was. I submit that the House is entitled to expect from the Minister, where he finds it convenient to legislate by reference in that way, a memorandum explaining the section which he has deemed it expedient not to set out.

Now that the Minister is no longer in Opposition, presumably he knows the Bill even better than he would have known it when he was in Opposition. He himself says in answer to Deputy Dillon, that the reason why those various parts of the Act of 1909 are being repealed is because fuller and better provision is being made in the Bill. I want to test him on that. I want to test him by asking him the question: What fuller and better provision is being made in the Bill by reason of the repeal of sub-section (2) of Section 28 of the Act of 1909? I will tell him what it is about; it is about Lloyds' insurance. The Minister need not pretend that he has read it; we will assume that he has read it. Will he tell us what better and fuller provisions are made in this present Bill for Lloyds' underwriters than were made by Section 28 (2) of the Act of 1909?

There are no provisions being made in the Bill for Lloyds' underwriters.

And they are fuller and better? Would the Minister then say, if there are no provisions being made for Lloyds', what is the effect of this Act on Lloyds' underwriters?

As the Bill stands at present, Lloyds' underwriters would not be entitled to carry on any of the classes of insurance business to which the Bill relates.

I am quite sure of that.

What about marine insurance?

The Bill does not relate to marine insurance.

Section 7 put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 8 stand part of the Bill."

In connection with this whole problem of issuing licences to insurance companies, the question arose on an earlier section as to how far the Minister can prescribe the form of application for those licences, and in how far can he by regulation prevent persons getting licences by stipulating a fee in excess of what it is reasonable to ask them to pay.

That is Section 11.

It is a question of convenience as to where the matter will arise. I want to ask the Minister now, on the section which makes it unlawful for any person to carry on an assurance business in this country without an assurance licence, is he in a position to tell the House now what it will cost to get an assurance licence? Unless we hear what an assurance company will be required to pay to get one of those licences, we cannot make up our minds whether we will make it illegal to carry on a business without one.

As in every other Act, the fee will be fixed at the amount necessary to cover the cost of dealing with the application—the cost of the purely clerical work involved.

Of course, the Minister will remember that under the Cement Act a fee was prescribed which was for the purpose of levying a duty on cement.

And it was expressly stated as being for that purpose.

Exactly, and I wanted an express statement, which I think I have got from the Minister now, that no such procedure will be followed in this connection.

If that is the assurance the Deputy wants I can give it to him right away. This is not put in for any revenue consideration.

It is purely to cover the expenses of the administration of the Act?

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

Before Section 9 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) It shall not be lawful for any person to negotiate a contract of assurance in Saorstát Eireann save under licence (in this Act referred to as an agent's licence) granted by the Minister under this part of this Act.

(2) Every person, who negotiates a contract of assurance in contravention of the foregoing sub-section of this section, shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds.

I think it would be convenient to discuss amendments Nos. 14 and 24 together. Amendment No. 24 is really complementary to No. 14.

Mr. Lynch

Amendment No. 14 prescribes that it shall not be lawful for a person to carry on assurance business without having a licence, and amendment No. 24 provides for the granting of those licences and the conditions under which they will be granted. I realise that those amendments are to some extent revolutionary, and I know that they do not recommend themselves to a number of Deputies even on my own side of the House; at the same time I think a case can be made for them. The object of amendment No. 14 would be to exclude from the insurance business the bird of passage who has no intention of making insurance his career, and at the same time preserve the insurance business for those who are making insurance their career—to preserve it for the whole-time insurance man. It may be said, as it has been said to me by different persons, that they would prefer to trust their premiums to people they know, like their bank manager or their local auctioneer or somebody of that kind who is in insurance business just as a side-line, than to entrust those premiums to the particular type of agent with whom they might be familiar.

I take a statement of that kind as being an argument in favour of this provision, because I believe that this provision, if given effect to, would wipe out the very type of agent whom those people had in mind. If you make the insurance business something in the nature of a profession, at any rate something that is carried on under licence, and if you exclude the part-time agent whose main income comes from other sources, the undesirable type of agent will very soon disappear. Furthermore, when there are the provisions that follow later on, and an agent has hanging over him the threat that for any misconduct he may lose his licence and be put out of business, it would have, I should say, a very salutary effect. The Minister himself, speaking at an earlier Stage of the Bill, said there was too much intensive canvassing, and that many of these agents were inclined to make fraudulent statements with regard to the policy they were trying to sell, in order to secure business. I believe that, if a provision of this kind were made, by which agents were licensed, that type of agent would soon be wiped out. I believe, first of all, that he might be the type of person who would be slow to pay the licence fee which is prescribed by amendment No. 24, and that if, in addition to any other penalties, there was the danger to him, if he desired to carry on the business, of losing his licence, it would prevent him indulging in the practice of trying to persuade policy-holders that he was giving them something better than he really was giving them.

Now, in a sense, this is not so very revolutionary, inasmuch as we have certainly had precedents in this House for making certain trades or professions exclusive to certain individuals. I understand that there is on the stocks at the moment a Bill making the auctioneering business to some extent exclusive. I was hoping that Deputy Haslett would be here, because I understand that he is very much opposed to the provisions of these amendments which would wipe out the part-time agents, because auctioneers do a good deal in the way of part-time insurance business. If Deputy Haslett had been here, I was going to put it to him that what was sauce for the auctioneer goose ought to be sauce for the insurance agent gander, and I was hoping that I could persuade him that, if he hopes to get a Bill through the House making the auctioneering business exclusive, he ought to support the insurance agents in making their business a whole-time business and exclusive to that extent.

There is an argument that can be used also with regard to many of these part-time agents who do work in the ordinary branch business. I think it is fairly generally known that very many of these agents are rather inclined to discourage the persons whom they wish to entice into taking out policies from doing business with the Irish companies. For the most part they are the agents of foreign companies, and, naturally, they are going to try to sell to the prospective policy-holder the insurance policy of the company for which they are agents. It is also to some extent objectionable that many of these agents are in a privileged position where they can practically force people to take out policies, and that they use those positions to gain an advantage that they might not otherwise gain, and to gain an additional income to their ordinary income. They are in a position, at least, that the ordinary agent is not in, in canvassing insurance. The ordinary agent has to sell the insurance policy for what it is worth. He has to make his arguments and to show the value of the policy, whereas many of the others in privileged positions have a big stick to hold over a person in order to make him take out a policy. It would not be quite so bad if they were agents for Irish companies, but I should say that 95 per cent. of them at least are the agents of foreign companies.

I think there is a case for having the agents of companies licensed, and I think that the effect of having them licensed would be to secure better service for policy-holders. You would provide, in time at any rate, a better type of man entering into the insurance business—a better type of agent, who would give more direct information to the prospective policy-holder, and the policy-holder would benefit to that extent.

Deputy Lynch is correct when he says that a number of statutes were enacted providing for the setting up of registers for persons engaging in different professions and for confining these registers to persons with particular qualifications, or recruited in a particular way. He will remember, however, that when the doctors and dentists and veterinary surgeons had been covered by such legislation, and demands for similar measures came pouring in from architects, engineers, hairdressers, auctioneers and valuers, opinions in all parts of this House rather reacted against such legislation——

Hear, hear.

——and, in fact, none of these measures ever appeared here except the Auctioneers and Valuers Bill, which appeared here in 1931 and has not got beyond the Second Stage since then, because, I think, of the feeling which existed and evidently still exists among members of all Parties that the restriction of entry into these occupations should not be effected, however desirable it might be to control the activities of persons engaged in these occupations or to improve the conditions under which they work. If, therefore, Deputy Lynch has in mind the idea of putting insurance agents into the same position as veterinary surgeons or dentists or doctors, and elevating insurance work to the status of a profession and confining it to certain classes of people, then I think I would have to oppose him on principle. In so far, however, as his main desire is to improve the conditions under which the majority of insurance agents work, and to give them an opportunity of getting a better livelihood out of the insurance business by providing that the business should be carried on, in so far as it is possible, by persons who are working wholetime in it—even though the number of such persons might be restricted—rather than that it should be carried on by a much larger number of persons to whom it was only a sideline, I have sympathy with that idea. My objection to the Deputy's amendments, and my objection to any proposal for the implementation of that idea which has been conveyed to me, is a purely practical one. I think that this proposal of the Deputy's is completely impracticable and that it could not possibly work. After all, he suggests that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, in his discretion, should issue a licence to a person to act as an insurance agent, subject to his being satisfied on certain points, into which I shall go later. Now, take the very first suggestion: that the Minister should have discretion in the granting or withholding of a licence. The Deputy sees at once that it would be a very difficult position for any Minister to be in, because no matter how he arranges to have every application determined, it is bound to be alleged against the Minister, as Deputies who sit in this House regularly know, that he is allowing political considerations, or personal considerations, or some other extraneous considerations, to influence his judgment.

Every person who is refused a licence will have a grievance, and is going to say that the refusal was due to some other cause except his unworthiness to have it. He is going to allege political victimisation or something of that kind, and in the eyes of the Opposition everyone who gets a licence is bound to be a Government supporter. It can be seen that that procedure is ruled out. It is doubly ruled out when the Deputy sets out the ground upon which the Minister would have to consider each application, first, that "the Minister is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold such licence." How is the Minister to satisfy himself that the applicant was a fit and proper person? He could not do that. Yet this is what follows: every person to whom he issues the licence is deemed in consequence of that to be a fit and proper person to hold a licence. The Minister is not merely giving permission to carry on the business, but the fact is, he is giving a certificate that he is "a fit and proper person" to do so, when he may be nothing of the kind. The Minister would not be in a position to check up the fact that he was a fit and proper person, and some person who was defrauded by a dishonest agent would feel that he had a grievance because he trusted that agent on the strength of the fact that he held a Minister's licence that he was "a fit and proper person," and so on with the other consideration:

the applicant is not engaged in any other business and is devoting or is about to devote his whole time to the assurance business.

Again, the question of the machinery comes in, because it would require very elaborate investigation before the Minister could honestly give the certificate that that was a fact in relation to any applicant. The actual provision of the fee is a minor matter. Therefore, the objection to the Deputy's proposal is that practically it could not be done in that way. I am saying that, although I am in sympathy with the idea, in so far as it can be ensured, that insurance business should be carried on by persons who are engaged whole-time in it, rather than by bank managers and auctioneers—not forgetting the lawyers, who supplement their incomes from that source by occasionally acting as insurance agents.

I say that on consideration of the whole matter, even if there were not the other factor to which the Deputy alluded, and which in present circumstances has some force, that these spare-time agents are, in the main, agents of external companies, and exercise considerable influence in turning insurance business from native companies. In accordance with the Government's general policy of regulating conditions of employment in particular occupations in the interests of persons following these occupations, action on the lines suggested by, the Deputy would be in accordance with our views, and while such action would be logical, my difficulty is that no practical method has been suggested to which obvious objections could not be advanced, and consequently I feel that it is undesirable to put any such provision in this Bill. In any event a provision of this kind should be embodied in a conditions of employment Bill of some kind relating to clerical work or to work of that class rather than in an insurance Bill, just as statutory provisions governing conditions of employment in say, a railway workshop are not in the Transport Act but in the Conditions of Employment Act. When the general code, to which reference has been made, designed to cover conditions of employment in all occupations is extended, it may be possible to make some provisions covering persons in the insurance business, but I do not quite see how these provisions can meet all points that the various agents' associations are anxious to have met.

I am entirely opposed both to the suggestion put forward by Deputy Lynch and to the principle embodied in it. It is the sort of amendment, of course, on which it is possible that an amount of nonsense could be talked. I am not saying that it is put forward by Deputy Lynch for that reason, but the amendment is one, not in favour of the employees but of the big companies. That may come as a surprise to the Minister. I think the Minister would be most delighted if such an amendment were carried, and so would the companies, because it would save them a great deal of trouble, a considerable amount of money by way of commission, but would do the employees no good whatever. That is not the principle I object to. I object to it on two grounds, that it is an endeavour to create a new privileged class, and as a consumer, using the word in its broadest sense, I object to being further fleeced. We are being fleeced by the Minister, right, left and centre, on every possible commodity. The fact that there are numbers of gentlemen, including those much-condemned gentlemen, the lawyers, acting as agents is the greatest possible protection for policy-holders, and would be policy-holders. They can get better terms than they would get if there was only a privileged small class of fixed canvassers available, with whom they had to place their orders whether they liked them or not. There is nothing to be said for the amendment. I should say that a number of people who have had the misfortune, of trying to earn their living as agents for certain classes of insurance have very great difficulty in doing so, and consequently if their field of operations was confined to themselves, they feel that a great benefit would be conferred upon them. The Minister fell into the trap. He talked glibly about sympathy with Deputy Lynch while all the time turning down the amendment by suggestions of an irrelevant ground. There is no Conditions of Employment Bill in which a provision of that kind could be properly inserted. This proposal would be in favour of the employers, and not in favour of the employees, and it is into that trap that the Minister walked.

In opposing this amendment, I suggest that one fact has been lost sight of. Those who have been mentioned as agents for insurance companies, bank managers, solicitors, and auctioneers, are able to perform certain service to persons effecting insurance which I think Deputy Lynch did not appreciate when he proposed the amendment. A person who has a place insured has perhaps a very hazy opinion of the insurable value of the premises. A bank manager is continually dealing with advances and has got a very sure idea of the market value, and is probably able to suggest that the place is either over insured, under insured, or is not insured at all. Solicitors and auctioneers are probably in a similar position. It has been claimed that this business should be reserved for a whole-time insurance agent. I suggest that such a person does not exist at the present time. The whole-time insurance man is in the direct employment, and is the servant, of one of the insurance companies. I do not see how a sort of direct whole-time insurance agent is going to be created. If he is a person of real insurance ability, who spends his whole time following up insurance business, it will not be very long until he is absorbed into the service of an insurance company. The three classes that have been mentioned have to deal with property from time to time, and are more or less experts valuing it, in transferring it, or in some other transaction in connection with property. People who have property to insure may not be able very readily to lay their hands on the class of whole-time insurance agent that Deputy Lynch has in view. If they went and asked for expert advice and did not take it, the insurance agent might feel aggrieved at such action; whereas if some passing reference is made to the value of a property during the period that it is under review by a bank manager or solicitor, it is quite another matter. For that reason I oppose this amendment.

Mr. Lynch

I think that Deputy Dockrell seems to have completely misunderstood what I endeavoured to point out. He looks on the agent in this amendment as some person who is a vacuum and who is not attached to any insurance company. By an agent I mean a person who is employed by an insurance company and who canvasses for an insurance company.

Would be draw a salary?

Mr. Lynch

Of course, either a salary or commission. It depends on the particular insurance company. Some have canvassers who are paid salaries; others have canvassers who are paid a small salary and a commission, while some agents are paid entirely on commission. The agents to whom I am referring and the agents for whom I am trying to provide are persons employed by existing insurance companies. I do not accept Deputy Costello's view that this provision would be of no benefit to the agents. He said it would be of benefit merely to the insurance companies. I agree it would be of benefit to the insurance companies, but I think it would be of far more direct benefit to the agents. It would be of benefit to the companies to the extent that the persons who would be employed by them would be of a better type than the persons they are getting now.

Their pay would be cut accordingly.

Mr. Lynch

The agents would be well able to look after themselves in that respect. The companies would benefit to the extent I have indicated, and they would also benefit by the fact that they would not be let in for the misrepresentation of the agent to policy-holders. The amendment is intended primarily for the benefit of the agents. I have made my case for it, and I do not think that anything Deputy Costello has said can change my views.

It amused me to observe the flash of friendly recognition that passed over the countenance of the Minister when he heard a proposal being made that would permit him to dragoon another section of the community. That element in Deputy Lynch's amendment appealed strongly to his soul, and it was with grief that he could think of no practical way of operating it. It would be such a joy to him to get another body of persons whose every action he could control. In my humble judgment, this amendment has nothing to recommend it in theory or practice. I think it is fundamentally rotten from both points of view. Deputy Lynch, who is familiar with my emphatic style, will excuse the strength of the language which I use. This amendment is designed to facilitate the Minister into dragooning people in their everyday work in a manner which I think is highly undesirable. It is an amendment which will react almost exclusively to the advantage of insurance companies, who will have their agents in a strait-jacket. The companies will inevitably say: "Whereas we have given you 20 or 30 per cent. heretofore, you have such a large area to cover now, and so much more a fertile field, that we propose to reduce your commission. If you do not like it you can lump it, as we can get another man." It has this additional difficulty. Instead of reducing the number of agents, it might eventually operate to increase the number of agents and make things far worse than they now are, because what is to prevent one of these legal agents, who would be created by Deputy Lynch's amendment, employing agents of his own?

Mr. Lynch

Yes, if he is prepared to pay a fee of £5 each for them. Read amendment No. 24, which provides that each agent must pay a fee of £5 on the granting of the licence, and an annual fee of £5 during its continuance.

Amendment No. 24 prescribes the fees?

Mr. Lynch

Yes. He will not get a licence unless he pays an initial fee of £5 and an additional £5 for every year afterwards that he has the licence.

A licence to do what?

Mr. Lynch

A sub-agent is an agent, surely?

Mr. Lynch

If he carries out the contract.

But he would not carry out the contract. The making of a contract of insurance is defined by the Bill and if I were a sub-agent to an agent I would take good care not to carry out the contract. I would go in to Deputy Lynch, if he were a shopkeeper, and I would say: "I know a man who will insure your property very advantageously. Will you give your business to him?" Deputy Lynch would ask me who he was and I would describe him. I would say: "If you take out the contract of insurance with him, this is what he will sign but this is not the contract. I will read you the notes I made when I was looking at the contract." Deputy Lynch would then say: "I shall be glad to deal with him on these terms." I would then trot over to the legal agent, supply him with the particulars I had received from Deputy Lynch, and he would then draw up the contract and I would carry it back to Deputy Lynch. I would be merely acting as a messenger between the legal agent and Deputy Lynch. Can the Deputy prevent that? Where are we going to draw the line? Are we going to provide that if a policeman sees a person crossing the street he must ask that person the purpose for which he is crossing the street? If we do not, how are we to prevent people obliging their neighbours and accepting a honorarium for obliging them? That cock will not fight and it is a good job it will not fight because, if it did, it would provide the Minister with another opportunity to dragoon yet another section of the community.

I am sorry that the Minister cannot see his way to accept this amendment. I think it has a great deal more to recommend it than the reverse. I do not at all accept the view that it would create a specialised class of insurance men, or that it would increase the price of insurance. On the contrary, I think it would effect a reduction, and in proof of that, I might point to the instance of the Public Bodies Mutual. They have no agents in the accepted sense of the word. Consequently their rates are much lower. In my opinion this would be a move in the same direction. There would, of course, be agents still operating, but we would not have the same plethora of agents that we have at present.

Why not do away with them altogether?

I think they should be made a special class or a privileged class. Why should we not put insurance on as high a plane as the law or any other profession? I see nothing at all against it. With regard to the special advantages to which Deputy Dockrell has referred, in the case of men insuring through bank managers. I cannot see the point of that argument at all, because it seemed to refer to fire and general insurance. I think if a man is insuring his premises, he, as the person who bought the premises, knows its value better than the bank manager. On the question of the character of the people with whom you do your insurance, I do not think that there is a whole lot in the argument that the types of people referred to here have been the desirable types. I do not think my experience would support that, and I have had some experience in this regard. I have seen things happening that were very little short of blackmail on the part of these people—things which could not be attempted by the agent. Nobody could get after these people because, usually, the victim had his head in the lion's mouth and, if he squeaked, the jaws closed upon him. There is a good deal to be said for this proposal, and I regret that the Minister cannot see his way to accept it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 16 (Deputies Norton and T.J. Murphy) not moved.

The other amendments to the section are consequential.

Question proposed—"That Section 9 stand part of the Bill."

I should like to know from the Minister what the definition of "person" is in this section. Apparently, there is no qualification as to place or nationality. A person resident in another country and owning property here could, evidently, be arrested by a Customs official who discovered in his bag a policy or covering-note in respect of that property effected outside the country. Surely, people who are not resident here should be able to effect insurance on their property here without being, so to speak, outlaws.

I am not sure what the Deputy's point is. Is he referring to the possibility of a person ordinarily resident outside the country effecting an assurance policy with a non-licensed company?

Yes—on property here.

There is nothing in the Bill to prevent that.

The section says: "It shall not be lawful for any person... to effect or to endeavour to effect any contract of assurance ..."

That is, any person who comes within the scope of our legislation.

Does it refer only to a national or would Mr. Posanski, who has applied for a naturalisation certificate, come under it? Does it mean a national or does it mean a resident?

What is the definition of "person" referred to in the section?

A person to whom this Act applies who effects a contract of assurance with an unlicensed company will commit an offence. The Deputy is talking about a person ordinarily resident outside the country?

He can insure where he likes.

But if he comes into this country he becomes a person effecting a contract of assurance with an unlicensed company. I can see no difference in the section between that person and a person resident all the time in this country.

I do not think that there is any point in the Deputy's argument.

I should like to be sure about the matter. The Minister answers me by saying that this person would not be a person covered by the Act. I should like to be sure about that.

The section clearly refers to a person who effects an assurance policy with a company which has not got a licence.

Quite so.

The point Deputy Dockrell makes is that if anybody comes in here with a contract note, he is guilty of a technical breach of the law because he has effected a contract of assurance with a non-licensed company.

Read sub-section (2) of Section 10.

That merely emphasises Deputy Dockrell's case. The phrase "ordinarily resident" is used in sub-section (2) but it is not used in Section 9.

It is only an offence so far as the company is concerned if the person be ordinarily resident here, but it is an offence for a person not ordinarily resident to have a contract of assurance with an unlicensed company.

Suppose I have property here, and I go over to Switzerland and effect in Switzerland a policy of assurance with a Swiss company, when I come home am I guilty of an offence?

And that is intended?

Yes, if the person is ordinarily resident here.

That is not in Section 9.

It is in Section 10.

That only relates to the company.

Is it the intention under Section 9 that a national should not be entitled to go abroad and effect a policy of assurance on his own life while abroad with a foreign company which does not do business in the Irish Free State?

If I bring a motor car to Germany and effect a policy of insurance there against my liability arising out of accident while in Germany, when I come home with my motor car I am liable to a prosecution. Is that the intention of the section?

Obviously, the Minister has not properly considered the effect of this section. For his own benefit, I ask him to get his legal advisers to look up Earl Russell's case on the question whether a man can be guilty of bigamy, having committed the bigamy in the U.S.A.

Is Section 9 agreed to?

No, I will vote against this. I must vote against the scope of the section as it stands. I can understand a Minister prohibiting a national of this State from entering into an assurance policy in this State with an insurance company in another country but when the section prevents me from insuring my life in Switzerland for a period of one month while on a holiday in that country and, on returning home, renders me liable to a prosecution it is quite a different matter.

In the case of motor insurance sub-section 2 of Section 10 makes it clear that Deputy Costello would not commit an offence by entering into a contract with an assurance company against a liability that would arise while in Germany.

I disagree with the Minister in his interpretation of that section.

Sub-section (2) of Section 10 says that if a foreign company issues "in respect of a liability, loss or damage which will arise (if at all) in Saorstát Eireann, or accepts from any person ordinarily resident in Saorstát Eireann a premium in respect of a policy so issued ... if the issue of such instrument of insurance or the acceptance of such premium was done in the course and as part of the carrying on of a business which is assurance business," then that foreign company is deemed to be carrying on business here.

The section does not say that. The section reads: "ordinarily resident in Saorstát Eireann," and this is followed by "or".

Then that company is deemed to be carrying on business, and under the circumstances it is an offence for the person concerned.

No, because sub-section (2) of Section 9 says that every person who carries on any assurance business in contravention of this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50.

Section 9 says it shall not be lawful for any assurance company or any other person to carry on in Saorstát Eireann any assurance business save under and in accordance with a licence.

That only goes to the English policy.

That section says that if a company issues an assurance policy it is carrying on business here either with or without licence. If it does not get a licence, then the person insuring with the company is committing an offence.

The Minister apparently has not read Section 9 fully.

There are three phrases as far as Section 10 is concerned: "a person ordinarily resident in Saorstát Eireann"; "in respect of a liability, loss or damage which will arise (if at all) in Saorstát Eireann," and "or accepts from any person ordinarily resident in Saorstát Eireann in respect of a policy so issued." These three are in Section 10 and not one of them appears in Section 9. Section 9 deals with the prohibition of insuring with an unlicensed insurer. Section 10 was supposed to be co-relevant to that. Section 9 is clear and distinct from these three points. It says: "It shall not be lawful for any person (otherwise than in the course of reinsurance) to effect or to endeavour to effect any contract of assurance with an assurance company or other person which or who is not the holder of an assurance licence entitling such company or person to effect contracts of assurance of the kind ..." Take a foreigner coming into this country who has already effected a policy of insurance with a German company——

Against a liability arising here?

That is not in the section. If it were in the section there would be some point in quoting it. Does the Minister intend to make it an offence under sub-section (2) of Section 9 for a German to come here having in his possession a policy of insurance effected with a German company? Surely not?

Is the Minister sure that the section does not catch such a person?

There is special provision in the case of motor insurance, where there is an insurance contract made by a person coming in here on a visit. But in respect of any other class of insurance this Bill operates only where the insurance is against a liability that will arise here.

Do we understand from the Minister that he only wishes Section 9, which creates a criminal offence, to be applicable in regard to an insurance effected here? If that is so, then we know where we are.

No. Any insurance effected by a person ordinarily resident here.

Supposing I go abroad and I discover that I can get a very valuable life policy at a very low rate from a German company? I am in Germany at that time, and I accept a fully paid up policy for one premium. Is that unlawful when I come back here?

Why should it be unlawful? Is the Minister now walking into a situation that he has not realised?

The principle is that the business must be done by companies licensed for business in this country.

In other words, the Minister wants to create a monopoly for companies who operate in this country, whether they are British or Irish.

We are confining business to companies which are licensed, and that includes all companies doing business at present.

Does that include companies who never did any business in this country?

Such persons are not entitled to a licence.

Supposing while in Germany I effected a policy of insurance, am I guilty of a criminal offence, or is it intended to make me guilty of a criminal offence?

Well if it is intended to do so, that section does not make it.

If a person resident in another country effects an insurance with an insurance company not licensed here on any property that is in this country, has such a person then making a visit to Ireland committed an offence on putting his foot on our shores? Is that right?

The Bill applies to people coming within the jurisdiction of this country—to no one else.

Do they not come within the jurisdiction of this country the moment they come in here? In other words, had not the person effecting such an insurance better keep clear of our shores?

The Bill does not do that.

How does he get out of it?

I am assuming that the Deputy has a policy with an Irish company. English law forbids any person in `Great Britain insuring except with an English company.

Does the Minister mean to say that English law forbids any person insuring except with an English company?

Where is that provided for?

Under the Act of 1923.

Which section?

Is not that dealing with industrial insurance?

Yes. It does not prevent him taking out an ordinary policy. It only applies to industrial insurance.

Take the person Deputy Dockrell has referred to. That is the case of the man who comes over here from Germany. Take the case of such a person who gets boisterous through indulgence in alcohol. Cannot he be arrested if he enters into a contract with a shopkeeper here?

Then the answer given does not entirely bear out what the Minister says.

Nevertheless, it is the law.

The Minister may say nevertheless. But how does it happen that the Act does not involve that man? Does not the Minister agree that there must be some purpose in introducing into Section 10 the phrases, "a person ordinarily resident in Saorstát Eireann,""liability, loss or damage which will arise (if at all) in Saorstát Eireann,""or accepts from any person ... in Saorstát Eireann a premium in respect of a policy so issued"? There must be some purpose in introducing these phrases into the section.

Certainly, because that specifically relates to a foreign country.

At any rate, somebody hereafter construing that Section 10 with limitations and Section 9 without limitations would come to a different reading of it. Does "a person ordinarily resident in Saorstát Eireann" mean a person ordinarily resident and only such person? If it does, why not say so? Is it not intended to mean every person whether ordinarily resident or not?

Obviously it cannot prohibit an Englishman from doing insurance business with English companies.

You do not intend to prohibit him?

Does Section 9 avoid that complication?

I think so.

That is my opinion.

Surely we are entitled to more than a mere expression of opinion? An opinion is worth nothing more than the reasons given for it. What is the reason given in this instance? We are told that the word "person" without limitation means everybody. Is that right?

A person within the jurisdiction of the Saorstát.

But that is not there in the section.

It is not necessary to have it there.

So that this has application to persons who are only ordinarily resident here. If it has that limitation then they are prevented from doing any sort of insurance business, not in regard to property in the Saorstát or risks that may arise in the Saorstát, but from doing insurance business of any type once they leave the country as long as they can be caught up hereafter. If a Saorstát national goes abroad for a period and wants to effect some short-term insurance for the period during which he is abroad, and comes back with that particular term——

Does the Deputy mean insurance against a liability likely to arise in the Saorstát?

No, likely to arise outside. That phrase, by the way, is not in the section either. Let us take it that "person" means only a person within the jurisdiction of the Saorstát. Does the Minister mean that if a person within the jurisdiction of the Saorstát goes abroad and effects any type of short-term insurance and comes back before the whole period is expired, he is supposed to be caught by Section 9? I take it that he is not, that there is no intention of affecting that man injuriously with regard to that class of insurance. But is it clear that it does not affect him?

I think so.

This is only fooling.

If it is fooling, then it all arises out of your foolish section, and the worst thing to do with a foolish section is to lose one's temper over it. The phrases are either inherent in the section or they are not intended to be there. If they are inherent in the section we should be able to discover them. I suggest there is a danger of people being caught who are not intended to be caught at all.

The Deputy is at liberty to produce an amendment.

I will give the Minister the benefit of my opinion of all the reasons. I say that Deputy Dockrell need not be a bit afraid about what he fears. The section does not do what he thinks it might do. On the other hand, the section does not do what the Minister says he intends to do by it.

And the Deputy's opinion has the force of all the reasons behind it?

Good, sound reasons. On the section, supposing a person here, an Irish national, wants to insure his life and for some reason there is a combination of the insurance companies operating here in the Irish Free State against him and they will not insure his life, a good, sound life. He is able to effect an insurance through Lloyd's or some other agency not licensed to carry on business here. Is it intended, in those circumstances, apart from what Section 9 does, to prevent an Irish national from laying off an insurance on his life which he cannot effect here with any existing company?


Is that the suggestion?

You have the same situation under the Road Traffic Act.

What will happen suppose you desire to cover a risk that no Irish company will take? I refer now to any licensed company operating in Ireland. I have had experience of trying to get a risk covered by companies who will be licensed under this Bill and none of them would cover it. Eventually, I got it covered by Lloyd's and it was necessary to get it covered at the time. If this Bill were in operation I would have suffered a loss which would completely wipe me out of existence because I could not cover it by insurance. It amazes me if it is not the Minister's intention to make some exception in respect of that. He says it is only fooling around to try to clear the ambiguities of Section 9. There is no doubt that Section 9 is so drafted as to avoid doing most of what the Minister desires to have done and to effect at least two results which nobody intends and nobody wants. However, the Minister is irritated and I assume that between now and the Report Stage the proper amendments will be brought in to set the matter to rights.

What matter?

To make the section effective, to do what the Minister wants done and to prevent it doing what neither the Minister nor the House desires to have done. There is no reason to reiterate the arguments. Possibly, when the Minister's mind is in a more clear condition he will be able to apprehend what the difficulties are.

Question put: "That Section 9 stand part of the Bill."
The Committee divided:—Tá, 42; Níl, 23.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Corbett, Edmond.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.


  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Broderick. William Joseph.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Sir Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Bennett and McMenamin.
Question declared carried.

Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 have the same subject matter and might be discussed together, but as amendment No. 18 is somewhat wider a separate decision will be given if claimed. Amendment No. 17.

Where is Deputy Norton?

Amendment No. 17 not moved.

Amendment No. 17 not moved.

Mr. Bourke

I move amendment No. 18:—

Before Section 10 to insert a new section as follows:—

No Government Department, Government owned or controlled company or public authority shall place any fire and accident business with any foreign company until either such body has entered into an agreement with a Saorstát Eireann company or companies to insure with it or with them such business or such portion of the business as the company or companies may agree to accept or such company or companies have refused to accept such business or any portion of such business.

In proposing this amendment I wish to say that I am sorry Deputy Norton is not here because his amendment, No. 17, has much the same object in view. The object of my amendment is to see that Government Departments, and companies and bodies generally under the control of the Government, will give preference to Irish insurance companies where they have insurance business to dispose of. The general provisions of this Bill are anything but favourable to the Irish insurance companies, and in order to make up for what those companies are going to lose as a result of its passing, it is only right that the Government should be prepared to give them some quid pro quo.

It is up to the Government, in a matter of this kind, to set a headline to the public generally. If the Government are not prepared to stand by the Irish companies and assist them, then they cannot expect that the public are going to give a preference to the Irish companies. In the past, local authorities have certainly been very sympathetic to the Irish companies. The Irish National Government has not shown the same disposition. As a matter of fact, it has been the other way about. The Irish companies have always shown a disposition to support our Government, whatever Government was in office, particularly in such matters as the floating of National Loans. No institutions in the country came more readily to the support of whatever Government happened to be in power at the time of the floating of National Loans than the Irish insurance companies. They were the first to come forward with very heavy subscriptions, subscriptions out of all proportion to their capital funds. I think that shows clearly the importance of having Irish companies that are sympathetic to the Government. I think it is only right that there should be some reciprocity, and that the Government, so far as it can, should assist the Irish companies with business within its disposal.

The Deputy puts forward this amendment as a means of compensating the Irish fire and accident offices for what he states they are going to lose under the Bill. The Irish fire and accident offices are not going to lose anything under the Bill; on the contrary, I think that they are going to gain considerably and that the provisions of this measure will result in their getting a much larger proportion of the fire and accident business arising in the Saorstát in future than they have got in the past. The principles of the Bill have been discussed, and the Deputy is no doubt aware of them. We are proposing to allow this business to be carried on by any licensed company that conforms to the provisions of the measure, and the reinsurance provisions in the Bill will mean that a much larger proportion of all such business arising here will be retained within the country and a very considerable part of it will find its way to the Saorstát offices. Under these circumstances, I am not disposed to accept the amendment.

I think the other provisions of the Bill to which I have referred are ample to ensure that the Irish fire and accident offices will get as large a proportion of the business as they are able to handle, and I think it would be objectionable to restrict the activities of foreign companies in the particular manner proposed. The matter of restricting foreign companies in fire and accident business was very carefully considered, and, for the reasons I stated in the course of the Second Reading discussion, it was decided not to restrict them otherwise than as proposed in the Bill, and certainly not to prohibit them from doing that business here. The circumstances under which that decision was taken may change at some time, and if, at any period, the Government in office consider it desirable to impose fresh restrictions upon these companies, it should, I think, be done directly, and not in the indirect manner the Deputy suggests in this amendment. The limitation of the classes of persons who might do particular kinds of business with certain licensed companies would be a difficult thing to control and is, I think, objectionable in principle. We believe that the Bill as framed will confer considerable benefit upon the Saorstát fire and accident offices, and that it is not necessary to insert any additional provisions of this kind in order to effect the same purpose.

Mr. Bourke

Would the Minister give any specific instance of how the Saorstát fire and accident offices are going to benefit as a result of any provision of this Bill—the reinsurance part or any other part? I cannot see it at present.

I indicated that the Government's intention was to ensure that, through the reinsurance provision, a proportion of all fire and accident business arising in the Saorstát would be available for Saorstát companies, and that in that way these companies would be enabled to get whatever proportion of the total business their resources permit them to handle. That proportion will increase continuously as the Bill comes into operation, and in consequence of these provisions, the growth of strong Irish companies doing this class of business will be promoted.

Mr. Bourke

Where is that in the Bill?

The Bill enables that to be done.

Mr. Bourke

It enables it to be done, but it does not do it.

The Minister asked precisely, with regard to the question of redundancy and the question of amalgamation, to be shown where amalgamations were compulsory under the Bill. Can the Minister now answer Deputy Bourke and say where what he speaks of is definitely pointed to in the Bill?

I explained that the Bill enables that to be done, and, when introducing the Bill, I explained that it was intended to use the provisions of the Bill in that manner.

I am not sure that I am entirely in favour of Deputy Bourke's amendment in all its details, but there is this clarity about it, that it says that Government Departments, Government owned or controlled companies, and public authorities must place fire and accident business with a foreign company, only after there has been agreement with a Saorstát Eireann company or companies to insure with it or with them such business or such portion of the business as the company or companies may agree to accept. Deputy Bourke's amendment aims at this, and says that, so far as Government Departments, Government owned or controlled companies, or public authorities are concerned, they must, first of all, approach, not the Reinsurance Company of Ireland, which may be some peculiar abnormality of which we have no conception of the moment, but some of the ordinary fire and accident companies of Saorstát Eireann origin, or companies described as being of Saorstát Eireann origin, and offer the business to them, and they can take whatever proportion of it they like. That is a concrete proposal. The Minister says his intentions are to achieve a similar result. How? Is it through the reinsurance company?

Through the reinsurance company.

Would the Minister explain what section enables that to be done? It is not Section 84, is it? The sections from Section 72 on allow for the formation of this reinsurance company, but where is the section which even hints that the reinsurance is going to be put out on commission amongst the existing Irish companies, or does it do that?

The Reinsurance Company will carry on as an ordinary reinsurance company. It will effect these reinsurance treaties on a reciprocal basis. Perhaps I had better read for the Deputy what I said in introducing the measure, at column 1723 of the Official Debates:

"It is proposed that every licensed company, Saorstát or foreign, shall enter into reinsurance treaties with the Reinsurance Company ceding a proportion of its Irish reinsurance business. The terms of the Treaty and the proportion of the business to be ceded will be agreed by the board of the company. The company will at its own option cede risks reinsured with it giving preference to the Saorstát companies wherever practicable. As all treaties at present granted are reciprocal, it will be seen that the external companies will be giving up a portion of their business by ceding to the Reinsurance Company unless the company enters into reciprocal treaties. In this way a certain amount of the Irish business and the profit attaching thereto will pass into Irish hands. This method will provide proper insurance facilities in general and for compulsory insurance in particular, and the business ceded to the Saorstát companies will help them to establish themselves. When this stage is reached the advantage of a Saorstát company over an external company in securing Saorstát business will, it is believed, enable them to obtain a proper share of that business, and expedite the arrival of the day on which the limitation of the business to Saorstát companies will be practicable."

The Minister in that speech also has refrained from referring to a section.

There is no section in the Bill which says that the Reinsurance Company will operate on that policy, but it can operate on that policy.

And it also need not.

It need not, but it is intended that the Reinsurance Company should understand, when established, that it is the desire of the Government that it should operate on these lines.

How will that desire be forced?

I suppose there is no way of forcing it except by appointing as directors of the company persons who are prepared to operate on that basis.

On the amendment we are discussing?

Not necessarily.

It is not the amendment. We are discussing first the compulsory section: there is no objection——

I object on principle. It is the wrong way to go about increasing the business of the Saorstát companies, at the expense of the external companies, to confine a section of people to business with Saorstát companies.

It only confines them to approach Saorstát companies which may refuse the business.

This amendment, and that of Deputy Norton, have the same principle behind them, in that both classes of insurance should be limited in that way. I think it is an objectionable way of dealing with this problem. The principle in the Bill is preferable and is designed to increase the business of the Saorstát companies and enable them to build up their resources.

I am definitely against clear-cut compulsion. But this says that with regard to certain business and certain people only connected in that business you give the Saorstát companies first place. They need not take that business. They need only take such proportion as they wish. If the Minister is not shy of that all I can say is that he has a horrible past to look back upon.

Mr. Bourke

There is grave doubt as to whether this portion of the Bill will come into operation at all.

It may never come into operation.

Mr. Bourke

I do not think the Minister should have any objection to a proposal of this kind. Every country that has established insurance business gives preference to its own nationals. Various countries which have had to build up their industries in competition from outside have taken a much stronger line. A beginning has to be made somewhere. I think this is a very moderate proposal.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 19 not moved.

Mr. Bourke

I move amendment No. 20:—

Before Section 10 to insert a new section as follows:—

Every foreign company licensed to carry on fire insurance in Saorstát Eireann shall reinsure either with a Saorstát Eireann company or with the reinsurance company to be set up under the provisions of Part VI of this Act a proportion not less than one-third of every fire insurance policy in excess of £2,000 effected on any property in Saorstát Eireann.

This amendment is on very similar lines to the last, with the exception that the reinsuring company is also given benefit. It cannot be held to militate against foreign companies because they will have to secure the business. We are asking that Saorstát companies ought to derive some advantage in view of the Minister's statement that he is sympathetically disposed towards the Irish companies, and he should accept this amendment.

I think the provision in the Bill is better.

The provision in the Bill refers to a reinsurance company that may never exist.

I will qualify that It will come into existence except alternative proposals are brought into operation that will be equally satisfactory.

And the proposals in the Bill, subject to that, are better than a concrete proposal?


It is rather hard to follow.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
SECTION 10 (2).
(2) A foreign company which issues (otherwise than in the course or by way of reinsurance) a policy, bond, certificate, or other instrument of insurance to a person ordinarily resident in Saorstát Eireann, or issues to any person a policy, bond, certificate, or other instrument of insurance in respect of a liability, loss, or damage which will arise (if at all) in Saorstát Eireann, or accepts from any person ordinarily resident in Saorstát Eireann a premium in respect of a policy so issued after the commencement of this Part of this Act shall, if the issue of such instrument of insurance or the acceptance of such premium was done in the course and as part of the carrying on of a business which is assurance business within the meaning of this Act, be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to carry on assurance business in Saorstát Eireann whether such instrument is issued from or such premium is accepted at a place in or a place outside Saorstát Eireann.

I move amendment No. 21:—

In sub-section (2), after the words "company which", line 45, to insert the words "or a person whether resident or doing business".

So far as the section was originally drafted it purported to exclude foreign companies from issuing policies of insurance here, but it did not exclude persons who are acting, in fact, as agents for foreign companies inside Saorstát Eireann; so it is suggested that the words "or a person wherever resident or doing business" should be inserted in addition to foreign companies in sub-section (2). I am not quite satisfied in my own mind that the insertion of these words is necessary and I would be glad to hear the Minister on the position.

I would be prepared to accept the amendment. I think it is desirable to have these words inserted. Perhaps the Deputy would bring the amendment up at the next Stage when we can reconsider it.

Very well.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 22:

At the end of the section to add a new sub-section as follows:—

Soliciting or canvassing any person in Saorstát Eireann, whether through the post or otherwise, shall, when done in connection with any assurance business, be deemed to be the carrying on of assurance business in Saorstát Eireann.

The object of this amendment is to ensure that a company which is unlicensed for the transaction of insurance business in this country will not be allowed to display, or otherwise solicit, business from persons intending to take out an insurance policy of any kind. In the moneylenders' legislation, at present in force, certain restrictions are imposed. On reflection, now, I do not think that moneylenders from abroad are forbidden to advertise here, but the form of their advertisement is very restricted. However, it ought to be made illegal here to solicit any person to do business with an unlicensed company in the Saorstát.

I do not think the amendment is desirable. It might create certain difficulties. Persons like solicitors, accountants and others, advising their clients upon insurance business, might possibly be held to be soliciting or canvassing and, therefore, guilty of an offence under Section 8. It would be better that this provision was not inserted. It is not necessary and it might create difficulties for the class of people to whom I referred.

I do not press it, as I see the administrative difficulties that might arise.

It is withdrawn then on the distinct understanding that solicitors, accountants and others may canvass in carrying on insurance business. I call the Minister's attention to sub-section (1) of Section 8 prohibiting any person from carrying on insurance business except in accordance with the licence of the Minister.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 10 stand part of the Bill."

What is the purpose of sub-section (1)? Why do you want business entirely transacted outside the Saorstát to be deemed to be carrying on business inside the Saorstát?

The business is not deemed to be. It says a Saorstát company which carries on business.

Notwithstanding that the whole of such business is carried on outside the Saorstát, it is deemed to be carried on inside—why?

It is a Saorstát company for that purpose, and we are, therefore, giving it the rights which a Saorstát company has under the Bill.

You would not if you did not deem it to be carrying on business in the Saorstát?

In effect the Bill says that any company doing business of a particular kind on the 31st October, 1935, shall be entitled to a licence, and that applies both to foreign and Saorstát companies. After that date a Saorstát company, in order to get a licence, must conform to certain conditions set out in the Bill. A Saorstát company which has been doing business before that need not conform to these conditions. It is entitled to a licence on application. Any Saorstát company acting under this section would be entitled to have a licence without conforming to these conditions, even though at present the whole or part of the business is done outside the Saorstát.

Is there a single example of it?

I do not know at the moment. I shall inquire if the Deputy wishes.

I am only on the point: is there a group of a Saorstát Eireann type doing the whole of its business outside the Saorstát?

There is not at the moment.

Then it does not bring anybody in for that purpose?

Apparently not.

I want to ask one last question on Section 10. Apparently there has been difficulty from time to time as to what and where is Saorstát Eireann. We have it in the Constitution, we have it in the Control of Manufactures Bill, and we have it in a variety of things introduced under various Finance Acts and, according to the phrase used, it has been "Saorstát Eireann," or "the area then known as Saorstát Eireann," or "the area then comprised in Saorstát Eireann." What is Saorstát Eireann under Section 10? Is it the whole of Ireland, or the Twenty-Six Counties?

It is intended to be the Twnety-Six Counties.

Is it the Twenty-Six Counties?

It is the area comprised in Saorstát Eireann at the date on which the Bill becomes law.

Why was it thought necessary to put in that phrase in the Control of Manufactures Bill, and not here? You have used the phrase "Saorstát Eireann" and there is no limitation with regard to the time or whether the judging of the Saorstát is at a particular period when an offence is committed, or at the time, under the Control of Manufactures Act, when the thing is done.

Sub-section (2) of this section relates to something which is in existence now or may exist in the future. In my recollection of the various measures in which I was responsible for that phrase, such as the Control of Manufactures Act, the necessity for it arose out of the fact that the qualifying condition, such as the condition which required a person to be born in the Saorstát, was something which commenced to operate before the Saorstát was established, and before the area of the Saorstát became defined. A particular section of the Control of Manufactures Act says that a facility or concession is available to any person born in Saorstát Eireann, or the area which is now comprised in Saorstát Eireann, and the necessity for that qualification is quite clear in that case, because, of course, a person might be born in the area long before Saorstát Eireann was constituted.

There are two sections in the Control of Manufactures Act relating to what are called nationals and qualified persons. They hinge on the phrase "Saorstát Eireann", or "the areas of jurisdiction of Saorstát Eireann." In sub-section (1) here you have it that a company is deemed to be a Saorstát company although the whole of its business is transacted outside Saorstát Eireann. Is that the Twenty-Six Counties?

That must obviously be whatever area constitutes Saorstát Eireann at the time being.

That applies to Saorstát Eireann in any Act, and yet it was thought necessary to insert a limiting phrase.

In the Control of Manufactures Act and other Acts, where some such definition as I have given arises, a qualified person is a person born in Saorstát Eireann or in the area now comprised in Saorstát Eireann, and that obviously related to a time before the existence of the Saorstát. That does not arise in this case.

I suggest that the Minister should have a look at the Interpretation Act and a lot of the difficulties will be solved.

It should have solved some of the difficulties in the other Acts. I never could understand why it was thought necessary to bring in that phrase in the other Acts in view of the Interpretation Act being there, which defines Saorstát Eireann as having application to the area for the time being within the jurisdiction of Saorstát Eireann.

Question put and agreed to.
Amendment No. 23 not moved.
Question proposed: "That Section 11 stand part of the Bill."

At an earlier stage we raised the question of fees, and it has to be borne in mind that under an earlier section the fee may be prescribed by the Minister. The Minister subsequently stated that he was determined that the fee would only be commensurate with the cost of administration. Can he now give anything like a round figure to represent it?

I have to get the consent of the Minister for Finance, and I have not yet consulted him. I give my assurance that there is no intention of using this provision to raise revenue. That sub-section is put in, as similar sub-sections were put in a multitude of Bills, because it has become an established practice, on an application for a licence, or some application of that kind, to require by fee recoupment of the cost of consideration of the application; that is, the cost of the stationery or clerical work involved. That is the only consideration which led to the insertion of the sub-section.

I take it the Minister will further be prepared to give the House an undertaking that the fee prescribed for one company will be the same for every other company?

The fee will be prescribed in any event—that is provided for.

As far as I can see from sub-section (7), which says, "On every application under this section for an assurance licence there shall be paid such fee as the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, shall prescribe...", it does not clearly state that the Minister shall first prescribe a fee for all companies, and then that all companies will be called upon to pay that fee. It leaves it open to him to prescribe a different fee for each company. I want to have it made clear that the Minister will prescribe the same fee for every company, so that there will be no possibility of this power of fixing fees being used hereafter for the purpose of excluding somebody from entering business by making it very high for one entrant and comparatively low for another.

In any event, that could not arise so far as the fee is concerned. No company can get a licence except a Saorstát company which conforms to certain conditions, and such company cannot be refused a licence except on stated grounds, and subject to appeal to the court, etc. The main group of applications for licences will come immediately after the Bill becomes an Act, and the conditions under which a licence will be issued are stated definitely and fully in the Bill. There is the right of appeal again given from the Minister's decision. It is not intended to have different fees for different companies.

Nobody reading the Bill would know that.

Any sensible person knowing the practice of administration would.

The thought might arise why a sensible person might not say so in language which could be understood.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported; the Committee to sit again to-morrow.