Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - National Health Insurance Benefit.

asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health whether he is aware that since the enactment of the British National Health Insurance Acts, 1935-36, an Irish national domiciled in Great Britain is not entitled to claim sickness benefit either in Great Britain or in this country; whether he is aware that great hardship is inflicted on a number of men in this category who have been paying contributions for the past 25 years, but who have ceased to be entitled to benefit after August, 1937, and whether, in these circumstances, he will state why representatives of his Department invited to discuss with representatives of the British Ministry of Health the question of reciprocity failed to avail of the opportunity to discuss the removal of the cause of the hardship, and whether he will state what steps he intends taking to secure for these men payment of benefit during periods of illness.

There is no enactment of the British Legislature which disentitles an Irish national domiciled in Great Britain from claiming sickness benefit under the British National Health Insurance Acts if he has been insured under those Acts.

If he had been insured under the National Health Insurance Acts in this country prior to his removal to Great Britain, and he becomes resident and employed in Great Britain, the continuity of his insurance is fully provided for under the National Health Insurance (Great Britain Reciprocal Arrangements) Order, 1924, and the corresponding British Order, the National Health Insurance (Irish Free State Reciprocal Arrangements) Order, 1924.

The Deputy's question appears to refer to the very limited class of Irish seamen domiciled in Great Britain employed on ships owned and registered in Éire. Prior to 1935, owing to a defect in the National Health Insurance-Acts, these men were liable to double insurance; first to Free State insurance by virtue of the fact that the ship was owned and registered in Éire, and, secondly, to British insurance when the ship was within the British three-mile limit. In fact, contributions were paid at the Irish rate only. The British Legislature by Section 9 of the British National Health Insurance Act, 1935, excluded the employment within the British three-mile limit from being employment within the meaning of the British Acts. This had the effect of removing the technical rights which the men concerned had of being regarded as insured persons under the British Acts. The section applied equally to British nationals and to Irish nationals. The matter is not one which comes within the scope of Section 17 of the National Health Insurance Act, 1923, which specifies the points on which reciprocal arrangements can be made with Great Britain.