Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 27 Mar 1952

Vol. 130 No. 5

Social Welfare (Insurance) Bill, 1951—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. There were two objects in establishing the Department of Social Welfare, over five years ago: firstly, to secure the co-ordination of the various existing insurance schemes and of the several assistance schemes which had developed more or less independently under several Departments of State; and, secondly, thus to provide effective frameworks for the rational development of those insurance and assistance services from time to time, having regard, of course, to contemporary social needs and the nation's economic resources. Although in those five years there have been some appreciable improvements, progress towards integration has been negligible.

There is no need to give the House an historical account of the growth of the social welfare schemes, as this has been done satisfactorily in the Department's first report, which is still readily available. That report not alone describes the Department's activities in its first three years (1947-1949), but it also traces the history of each scheme since its origin. It was designed to be a compendium of all that had gone before, and as such it will remain a useful work of reference for all who are interested in the development of our social services. It shows that in 1931-32, after a decade of government by the dominant Party opposite, Exchequer expenditure on the social services now administered by my Department totalled about £3,250,000—the same as, or in fact a little less than it was at the commencement of that régime ten years earlier. They could be described as ten years of inactivity were it not for the fact that the old age pensioner for part of the time had his pension reduced by 1/- per week. At the close of that administration, there were no widows' and orphans' pensions (contributory or non-contributory), no unemployment assistance and no children's allowances, in fact, nothing more that the three schemes —old age pensions and schemes of unemployment and health insurance which had been in operation before 1922.

The following 16 years (from 1932 to 1947, inclusive) present a more satisfying picture, although it is not all that some of us might desire. Exchequer subventions rose from £3,250,000 to £11,250,000—an advance which averaged out at more than £500,000 each year—and we saw the introduction of unemployment assistance in 1933; of widows' and orphans' pensions in 1935; of wet-time insurance in 1942; of children's allowances in 1944; of miscellaneous social welfare schemes, such as those to provide footwear for necessitous school children and cheap fuel for necessitous households; and of many improvements in the scope and standard of the services which were formerly available. I might mention, too, that during that period time and energy were devoted to the unification of approved societies under the National Health Insurance Acts as a first step towards the co-ordination of the social services.

I have, on an earlier occasion, complimented my predecessor, Deputy Norton (who became my successor as Minister for Social Welfare in 1948), on his success in maintaining through his three years of office the rate of progress which characterised the 16 years preceding his term. When I say "the rate of progress", I mean progress in so far as it can be measured by Exchequer contributions. State expenditure increased from the £11,250,000 in the financial years 1947-48 to £12,750,000 in 1950-51—and so he maintained the Fianna Fáil advance at the rate of £500,000 a year.

No doubt we shall hear again of all that it was intended to do over and above what was actually done by the Coalition. We are almost bound to hear about the intentions enshrined in the belated White Paper and of the proposals embodied in the abortive Bill of 1950.

The first task of the new Department in 1947 was to effect the actual physical transfers of services from the Departments of Local Government, Industry and Commerce and the Revenue Commissioners, and to commence their integration. The future organisation of the Department was worked out and the plan was progressively implemented as opportunity offered, every possible effort being made, in the process, to effect administrative economies. It was decided that the main legislative programme would be taken in two stages: the first to embrace all the insurance schemes and to provide for their unification and such extensions as might be feasible; the second to deal with the assistance schemes, which also contained many anomalies and shortcomings which needed remedy. This was considered to be the logical approach because changes in the insurance services would affect the scope and standards of the assistance schemes, which are designed to provide for the needs of persons not covered by insurance.

So we set to work at once on the planning of a comprehensive insurance scheme and the preparation of a White Paper which would present to the public a review of the services and an outline of Government proposals for their reform and development. I shall deal later with the progress made on this task.

In 1941, the Government decided to do what they could for those sections of the community who were most seriously affected by the increased cost and scarcity of food and other commodities arising out of the emergency. Accordingly, they made additional allowances of milk, butter and bread to recipients, in urbanised areas, of unemployment assistance, old age and blind pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions and disablement benefit. Similarly, they increased the weekly cash allowances payable to recipients of unemployment benefit in respect of adult and child dependents, and they undertook to recoup to local authorities the cost of supplementary food allowances for persons in receipt of home assistance. The following year (1942) and again in 1944 saw substantial extensions of these measures.

My first act as Minister was to decide to discontinue these food vouchers and supplementary cash payments, and to substitute cash supplements in all the insurance and assistance schemes affected by them, at a cost to the Exchequer of over £2,000,000. The broad principle observed was to give by way of cash the equivalent of the former food voucher or supplement, subject to the condition that, with one exception, the addition should not be less than 50 per cent. of the basic benefit. Many of the increases, particularly in the case of widows' and orphans' pensions, exceeded 50 per cent. The exception I mentioned was that of rural old age pensioners. There was no increase in the insurance contributions, the Exchequer undertaking full responsibility for the additional expenditure involved. All this was done—without fuss or trumpet-blowing—and was brought into operation on April 1st—during that first year when our main task was to bring the Department into being and to prepare a comprehensive insurance scheme for publication in a White Paper and then for legislation.

The preparation of a comprehensive scheme was the major undertaking of 1947. Most people are only too familiar with my predecessor's (Deputy Norton's) oft-repeated allegation that nothing was done until he came along in February, 1948. In this House—at the hustings—in the High Court—in the newspapers—somewhere in Kildare —wherever and whenever opportunity offered—he made the completely baseless, and unscrupulous charge that practically no progress had been made on this scheme. He found what he described on one occasion as "a scrap of paper". On another occasion when he was under oath and careful of his words, asked if the scheme had been in course of preparation when he took office, Mr. Norton replied: "There were some notes there." That, it should be remembered, was in June, 1949, almost a year-and-a-half after taking office as Minister for Social Welfare.

Lest any Deputy may think that Deputy Norton, as Minister, was left unaware of the progress made before his arrival, may I add this further extract from the same day's newspaper report:—

"Mr. Norton said that when he went to the Department he asked what the position was in connection with the matter. He was told orally, and he asked to have all the relevant data sent to him and he closely examined it. He got that data, so far as it existed, from the Department within a few weeks of going there."

I could give much more to remind Deputies of the impressions which Deputy Norton, during three years of office, strove so assiduously to create in the public mind: on the one hand, a dilatory and ineffective predecessor who grossly neglected his work in the Department; on the other hand, a hustling, energetic, productive Coalition successor worthy of the description applied by a colleague—"the strongest man on social security."

It is easily known who wrote that brief for you.

It is sticking out.

The day of retribution will come one of these days.

Is it hurting you?

I am sorry if it seems offensive to the Deputy.

Carry on.

It is perfectly obvious where that came from.

I assure the House that nobody knows the real facts better than Deputy Norton. The real facts will be no surprise to him but they may astonish those who have accepted his account of important events.

I have made a search for what Deputy Norton chose to describe as "a scrap of paper" and "a few notes". I have refreshed my memory by references to the actual files— which I have here to hand at this moment—and to a chronological record compiled at Deputy Norton's request for information in May, 1949. This chronological summary dealt only with the main developments and the more formal conferences regarding the proposed White Paper and comprehensive scheme. It did not, as was stated in it for the Minister's information, record innumerable general discussions, or talks on particular points, which took place between the Minister of 1947 and secretary and between the secretary and the higher officers concerned.

The document says that during March, 1947—

"general consideration was being given to the question of a comprehensive scheme at the same time as negotiations were proceeding with the Department of Finance for the loan of an actuary".

The actuary was transferred before March was out. Early in April there were conferences of high officials and, in the light of them, a first memorandum was prepared under the title: "Observations to assist discussions on the question as to who should be insured." This was followed, on the 18th of the same month, by a direction that "... the plans should be complete along lines which the Minister should be enabled to disclose in the White Paper which it is proposed to issue at about the end of this year". The direction proceeded to state that the preparation of a scheme on comprehensive lines should proceed apace even though it might be necessary to introduce it "piecemeal".

By the 2nd April another most informative memorandum emerged from the higher officers' activities, namely: "Observations to assist discussions on the question of what kinds of benefits should be provided by insurance." This was followed a little later in the same month by: "Observations to assist discussions on the question of the amounts of the various insurance benefits." Next came a series of formal conferences. Before the end of June a draft scheme was prepared at official level setting out (a) the classes proposed to be insured and (b) the benefits proposed to be provided. As Minister, I was kept informed of these developments and given copies of all the principal memoranda. Before June ended a stage was reached where it was decided to hold a conference of all the principal officers of the Department, and to submit to them for their criticism and suggestions an outline of the scheme which had by then taken sufficient shape to make this move worth while.

In July there was a formal conference with me at which progress was fully reported, and towards its conclusion I gave instructions: "... to proceed with the preparation of the White Paper."

In September and October the preparation of the White Paper progressed further in the form of four most important memoranda covering: (1) the proposed benefits; (2) the estimated expenditure; (3) the financing of the scheme; and (4) questions concerning the existing non-contributory schemes. These memoranda constituted the basis of the scheme outlined in the White Paper which Deputy Norton published almost two years later. Deputy Norton knows well that by December, 1947, the preliminary rough draft of a large part of the proposed White Paper had emerged from these activities.

Throughout January, 1948—before the Department had reached its first birthday — conferences devoted their attention to assistance problems, the insurance field having been adequately surveyed. By the 29th of that month it was possible to set out those problems, and their proposed solution, in a further memorandum. Early in February —by the 7th—the "problem of the low wage earner" had been similarly considered, and a method of dealing with it outlined in a memorandum for submission to the Minister. The next conference—on the 11th February—applied itself to further discussion of the low wage group, the position of married women, voluntary insurance, marriage grants and transitional arrangements.

A week later this House changed the Government and the Department of Social Welfare was entrusted to Deputy Norton. Ready to serve any Government, the officers of that Department were plodding along, putting the finishing touches to their "Outline of a Draft Scheme of Social Insurance". The document was, in fact, being stencilled, the Secretary having directed that it be circulated, "under urgent covering minute", to all senior officers for their observations prior to submission to the Minister. That was the stage reached when Deputy Norton entered the Department of Social Welfare as its second Minister—almost exactly a year after I had entered it as its first Minister.

I want to impress upon the House that I have recited facts as presented to the Minister in 1949. It may seem an incredible story to those who have followed Deputy Norton's statements over the past four years. Even I, knowing the facts, and having known them all along, find it hard to understand what enduring kudos it was hoped to win—what useful purpose it was hoped to serve—by the absurd pretensions (to put it mildly) to which we, and the public, have been submitted for so long. Before I indicate the significance of the "scrap of paper" and the "few notes", may I make one thing clear? The "Outline of a Scheme of Social Insurance", produced before Deputy Norton became Minister for Social Welfare, had not received my approval. It had not yet been submitted for the Government's approval. My instructions to the Department were to prepare a fully comprehensive scheme with benefits which the officers considered equitable. It would be a comparatively easy matter to eliminate what the Government might consider superfluous, or to alter the level of benefits.

I had not officially expressed disapproval of any particular item, but I remember saying that I thought it to be unduly weighted in favour of the urban as distinct from the rural population. I thought, too, that it involved too great a financial burden on workers and employers. It was, nevertheless, a good starting-point and not, by any means, "a scrap of paper." Given a few more weeks of office, the document would have come before me formally with such additions or subtractions as may have seemed desirable in the light of the criticisms of the senior officers to whom the final draft had gone. It would then have been up to me to approve the scheme or have it modified, if I so desired, and then to submit it to the Government for approval. Several times when in opposition I said sufficient data were ready when I left in 1947 to enable any Minister to decide upon a scheme inside a month.

And you took nine.

I will answer that in a few more sentences.

You have taken over nine months.

It is not bad going.

Considering it was ready, according to the Minister, in 1948.

He knew what each benefit would cost and what any alternative benefit would cost. When I came back I did decide and this Bill appeared inside nine months. Any Minister taking over at that stage should have produced a Bill in nine months as I have done now—not three years as Deputy Norton did.

Here is the "Outline of a Scheme"—an original copy from the supply prepared as I left the Department— and beside me are the "few notes" that Deputy Norton referred to in the High Court—the various memoranda which, suitably amended, constituted the White Paper published a year and a half later. Deputy Norton is, or should be, familiar with all of them. They represent an immense amount of thorough and painstaking work, done in a short time (less than a year) by officers who put so much into that great effort. They represent work which should not be disparaged, or misrepresented, in this House or elsewhere, and I, at any rate, feel strongly that it is most unfair of any Minister, or ex-Minister, to attack his predecessor in a manner that carries the interpretation that his principal officers were idlers or obstructionists.

It is a pity the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs has not introduced television so that your actions could be more appreciated.

If I am able to please those present, I will be well satisfied. The "Outline" which I left behind comprises three main sections: details of the benefits; scope of the scheme, contributions required and so on; and transitional arrangements to cover existing insured persons, etc. Summarised, they proposed that the comprehensive insurance scheme would embrace all persons, from school-leaving age to age 65 years, who are working for an employer under contract of service. The benefits proposed included disability, unemployment, contributory old age pensions from age 65, widows' benefit, orphans' benefit, maternity benefits, marriage grant and death grant.

The rates of disability and unemployment benefits proposed in this were 24/- weekly with additional 12/-weekly for a dependent adult and additional 6/- weekly for one dependent child or each of two dependent children; the rates for widows' benefit were 24/- weekly and 6/- weekly for each of two dependent children; the contributory old age pension proposed was 20/- at age 65 with 10/- extra in respect of a dependent husband or wife; the orphans' benefit proposed was 10/- weekly; the maternity benefit proposed for an insured woman was 24/- weekly for 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after confinement, and for a non-insured wife of an insured man, 20/- weekly for 4 weeks; a maternity grant of £4 was also included; the marriage grant proposed was £50 on first marriage and £25 on second or later marriages; and the death grants proposed were £6, £10, £15 and £20 according to the age of the deceased. The contributions proposed to carry these benefits were 6/10d. for a man and 5/4d. for a woman, divided equally between the employer and the worker, the State to supplement income to the extent, approximately, of one-third of the total cost. An important feature of the scheme was that disability benefit was to be paid not only during incapacity due to sickness but also during incapacity due to disease or accident arising out of or in the course of employment, thereby replacing the workmen's compensation code.

To what extent were the proposals in this "scrap of paper"—these "few notes"—altered by Deputy Norton in the one and a half years before the White Paper was published in October, 1949, and the two and a half or three years before his Bill reached this House? He dropped the proposals regarding incapacity due to accident or industrial disease. He dropped the proposed marriage grants. He increased by 1/- weekly the proposed additional 6/- weekly for one dependent child or each of two dependent children. He increased the retirement allowance from 20/- to 24/- and the allowance for a dependent husband or wife from 10/- to 12/-. Keeping to the fundamentals of the scheme which awaited him in the Department of Social Welfare, that is the sum total of the alterations which he made. I am not quarrelling with Deputy Norton because of those changes, but it is hard to believe that any man could spend almost two years in making up his mind on such trivial matters. Mr. Norton spent his days and, we are told, he often sat late into the night, in a state of indecision and when he removed the wet towel from his head he still wavered between 6/- and 7/- for a child. I heard Deputy MacBride say at Clonmany in the East Donegal by-election that the scheme left by me had to be scrapped and a new one prepared. We know now that Deputy Norton did not scrap any scheme and that, in fact, he adopted it with a few minor changes. Where did Deputy MacBride get his information? Or had he any information on which to base such a statement?

On the morning when the present Bill was summarised in the newspapers (14th March) there appeared also a Press release from Deputy Norton. In it he said:—

"It is clear that the provisions of the Bill in respect of sickness and unemployment benefit were the same as in the Bill I introduced early last year. Similarly, the provisions for increased contributory pensions for widows and orphans are the same as in my Bill."

It would be hard to beat that for cheek or deceit or should we call it conceit? They were the same as in the despised "scrap of paper,""the few notes," which he inherited four years ago, except for the extra 1/- a week allowance for one child or each of two children.

As I stated earlier, the main provisions of the Bill are designed to achieve the major purpose for which the Department was established—the long-delayed integration, simplification and improvement of the existing insurance services. It does all that. We shall have, at last, as from October next, the single insurance card and the single stamp which will symbolise the administrative merger that will take effect in the Department's headquarters and local offices. We shall have a situation in which workers and their employers will benefit from a simpler and more rational and economical handling of those services.

It has been one of my aims, since I first became associated with Social Welfare, to bring about a more economical and efficient administration. Appreciable progress in that direction was made in 1947; no doubt the effort was maintained during my interval on the Opposition Benches; it continues now, and I am reasonably confident that the co-ordination secured by this Bill will keep down administrative costs. Some of my predecessor's critics, during recent years, forecast an immense increase in the burden of officialdom if the White Paper scheme were to be implemented, one going so far as to say that it would require 2,000 extra officials to administer it. That was, of course, nonsense. We should administer this Bill without any increase in the number of officials, and I hope with some saving in that direction—and I am relying on the co-operation of the Department's staff of all ranks, to keep costs down and to contribute all they can towards a solution of the nation's present problem.

It may interest the House, in this connection, to learn that in just over a year of the Department's separate existence there was a net reduction in staff of no less than 164, equivalent to £28,000 per annum in wages. Each subsequent year since then has added its quota of economies until at the end of 1951 the total net reduction in staff had passed the 200 mark, representing a wages bill, at current rates of pay, in the neighbourhood of £60,000 a year. In the present year to date the result of an intensive examination of organisation and methods in one large branch alone of the Department has yielded a saving of almost 80 in staff and a total annual reduction of £26,000. In addition, recommendations have been made for reorganisation in other sections which cannot be implemented until schemes are integrated by this Bill and the staff is co-ordinated in the new Store Street premises.

The Bill also clears a great deal of deadwood, such as out-of-date or obsolete legislation and regulations, and it provides the increased and uniform benefits for sickness, unemployment and widowhood which have been my aim since 1947.

There is no need to pause for long over the rates of benefit, which are clearly set out in the Third Schedule to the Bill. They are, in the case of disability and unemployment, 24/- a week for a man or a woman, except a certain class of married woman, 12/- a week extra being payable for a dependent wife (or a woman having the care of dependent children) and 7/- a week for each of two children. Thus, a man with a dependent wife and two children will receive 50/- weekly as compared with the present 35/- weekly for unemployment and with the present 22/6d. weekly for sickness, which is reduced to 15/- after six months. Similarly, the contributory widow will receive 24/- weekly and 7/- for each of two children. Orphans' allowance will be 10/- weekly without the existing distinctions for widows' as well as orphans' pensions between employment in urban and rural areas and between agricultural and non-agricultural employment. Those discriminations have gone. In regard to the new rate of 24/- a week for widows, I should say that under existing legislation there are three different rates of 12/6d., 14/- and 16/- and a week. Since by far the greatest number of beneficiaries under the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Acts are widows without children, my proposal represents a very considerable improvement as compared with the present position.

I find that at the 31st December, 1951, of 16,000 recipients of contributory pensions, over 11,300, or over 68 per cent., were widows without children in receipt of 12/6, 14/- or 16/- a week. Of the balance, composed of widows with children, about 3,800, or 23 per cent., are in receipt of pensions of various amounts from 18/- to 28/- a week. The increases in these cases will, in some instances, be as much as 16/- a week and in all cases not less than 8/6 a week. A further 1,200, or 7 per cent., will also receive increases. Thus, of the total beneficiaries, the proposal means an increase in pension for about 98 per cent.

There is a marriage benefit of £10 for female employed contributors. Maternity benefit comprises the existing lump sum maternity grant of £2, payable on the husband's or the wife's insurance or on both qualifications, and a maternity allowance of 24/- weekly for 12 weeks, payable on the woman's own insurance.

Treatment benefits—hospital, dental, ophthalmic, and the rest—will continue as heretofore, subject to a maximum expenditure of £500,000 per annum which the Exchequer intends to provide without charge to the insurance fund or on the contributions of workers and their employers. It is hoped that a comprehensive health scheme will replace these treatment benefits in the not too distant future.

I shall deal more comprehensively with the costs of these benefits a little later. For the moment, it is sufficient to say that, apart from administration costs, expenditure on unemployment benefit will, it is estimated, advance from the present (1951-52) £950,000 per annum to £3,000,000 per annum; disability, marriage, maternity and treatment benefits will go up from £1,920,000 to about £3,300,000; and contributory widows' and orphans' pensions will increase from £880,000 to £1,250,000. Totalling these items (and, again, for the time being, ignoring administration costs) the present 1951-52 expenditure on insurance benefits, amounting to £3,750,000, will be superseded by expenditure estimated to total something over £7,500,000—in other words, future insurance benefits will be twice the current amount.

As the House is aware—and as Deputy Norton was quick enough to remind me in his recent Press release and Kildare speech on the shortcomings of this Bill—I had hoped to produce an insurance scheme which would not involve any or much increase in the existing workers' and employers' contributions. Some Deputies will remember that on the Second Reading debate on Mr. Norton's Bill, I advocated that widows' pensions should be financed entirely out of the Exchequer and not by contributions. I stated my reasons, which for the moment are immaterial, but I also mentioned the reasons that could be advanced against, one of which was that no Minister for Finance will readily agree to impose taxation in lieu of an existing source of revenue, even in deference to a colleague's wishes. The present income from contributions for widows' and orphans' pensions is about £1,000,000. I was right. The Minister for Finance did object, and I must add that my own officials were very relieved when I capitulated to that Minister, because they were at their wits' end to deal with the position that would arise for those who had contributed for some time towards a widows' pension. The result is that contributions for widows' and orphans' pensions remain. Were it not for that, my hope would have been fully realised. The position, then, is that the ordinary male employed contributor now pays 1/11 weekly and his employer pays 2/- — that is 3/11 between them. I shall require 5d. extra from the man and 4d. extra from his employer. A 20 per cent. increase in contributions for 100 per cent. increase in benefits!

I should like to remind the House that the Coalition in 1948 took the same levy off the workers but gave them no increase in benefits. Mr. Norton proposed in 1950 to increase the 1/11 weekly by 1/7 to 3/6 weekly, or 1/2 in excess of the contributions which I am imposing.

Certain long-standing disparities in the financial basis of our insurance schemes are ironed out. No heavy burden is imposed on industry or the worker; and, leaving out of consideration the £500,000 to be provided by the Exchequer for treatment benefits without any charge on other contributors, we have succeeded in placing the insurance schemes, as a whole, on the basis of equal contributions of one-third from the State, the employers and the workers respectively.

I should say, in passing, that there is one departure from this principle of one-third division to which I shall advert later. The point I wish to emphasise now is that the contributions proposed are so near to existing standards that there is no danger of the scheme being unwelcome on the score of its impact on weekly wages and weekly pay-rolls.

I have tried to keep down the number of special categories of workers creating a corresponding range of contribution stamps of various denominations. Unlike Deputy Norton and his Party, I believe that men working in agriculture should receive the same treatment during sickness and unemployment as their brethren in other industries. This Bill assures that to them, but the decision to create equality of benefits presented me with considerable difficulty because it would be impossible to expect the average farmer and the farm worker to step up their contributions from 10d. and 9d. respectively to 2/4. Deputy Norton, in his Bill, tried to overcome this difficulty by providing a low-wage group which, with a wage ceiling of £3 10s. weekly, was designed to segregate farm workers and their employers (and juveniles and domestics also) from the ordinary insured class.

In the case of a male worker so employed, he provided for a contribution of 2/6, 1/- less than the ordinary rate, but the farmer employer would have been required to pay the ordinary 3/6. The farm hand would have been confronted with liability for 1/9 weekly over and above the 9d. which he pays at present, and the farmer would have had to pay 2/8 weekly over and above his present liability of 10d. weekly. A much worse feature was, however, that special lower rates of disability and unemployment benefits were to be paid to persons within that special low-wage group.

These proposals in Deputy Norton's Bill amounted to something which we on this side of the House could not accept. I abandoned the device of the low-wage group. I have made provision for full ordinary benefits for men in the agricultural industry. I have provided for moderate contributions from the farmer and his man— 1/3 from each, which is only 5d. extra from the farmer and 6d. extra from the man. This has been done by imposing a heavier charge on the Exchequer, and it is, if you like, a further subsidisation of agriculture.

And we did not consult Butler.

You can never tell; you may have.

Instead of contributing an equal one-third with employers and workers, the State has, in respect of this group, undertaken to contribute four-sixths as against the farmer's one-sixth and the male agricultural workers' one-sixth. This course, I admit, gives a marked bias in favour of agriculture, but the Party on these benches will face the criticism on that issue. Agricultural workers, and farmers, are less well organised than their industrial and urban counterparts, and they cannot so readily shed increased charges or win compensation in the way of higher wages. The Labour Party gave their willing and wholehearted support to the Coalition measure which would only allow 37/- per week to a sick or unemployed agricultural labourer with wife and two children. I am proposing that he should get 50/-. The Labour Party are contesting the Second Reading because I have departed from some of Deputy Norton's proposals. Why not include this departure in the case of agricultural labourers?

I wish, now, to pass to another important difference between my predecessor's Bill and the measure before you. The scopes differ. In a country such as ours, with so many small- holders constituting so large a part of our main industry, it is wrong to apply the term "comprehensive" to any social service which does not include the self-employed within its scope. In Britain and the severed Six Counties the self-employed are in with the employed, and it is accordingly correct to talk of their national insurance scheme as being comprehensive. Here, we have not yet evolved, in either my Bill or Deputy Norton's proposals, a scheme which would merit that description. Deputy Norton appeared to be fascinated by the word, but the only suggestion of comprehensiveness was that all persons employed under a contract of service were to be insured, regardless of their rate of remuneration, their status in their occupations or the amenities they enjoyed. The bank director would participate in the scheme on the same basis as the roadworker.

True, power was taken to exclude classes of workers and to modify the scheme in relation to particular groups. Deputy Norton had reached the stage of agreeing with the Minister for Finance that established civil servants and officers of local authorities, for example, would be excluded. I, too, agree with exclusions, and for that reason I have provided an insurability ceiling of remuneration at a rate not exceeding £600 yearly. This is an advance of £100 on the existing ceiling of £500 which I introduced in 1947 to replace the then-existing £250 per annum. To go farther than that— merely to give some colour to a claim to comprehensiveness—could not be justified in present circumstances. I cannot see either the justice or necessity for the inclusion of classes that can never benefit. I admit that their contributions would strengthen the fund, but I cannot approve of this hidden method of taxation.

In his recent criticisms of this Bill, Deputy Norton referred specifically to "the killing" of that "valuable feature of the inter-Party Bill" which provided for death grants for every member of an insured person's family, varying in amount from £20 at age 18 to £6 at age 3. I do not claim that I am providing a comprehensive scheme to meet all needs from the cradle to the grave. Deputy Norton liked to create the impression that he was doing that, but he was not. Those proposed grants towards burial costs, for example, would only have reached the households of the qualified insured. I have tried to maintain the principle that any scheme which is needed by the self-employed as much as by the employees should not be included on the insurance side of social welfare. The struggling small farmer—or anybody else of the self-employed or non-employed classes—would have received no such financial help in burying their dead, unless, of course, they were in such penury that recourse to public assistance was necessary. They would have contributed, through indirect taxation and through the prices paid by them for goods and services, to the cost of this benefit conferred on their insured neighbours—this benefit which was to have been conferred even on the company director enjoying remuneration running to, perhaps, a few thousand pounds a year.

That is only one of my objections. I admit Deputy Norton stole the idea, without altering a figure, from my "scrap of paper". I have been taunted before with having a prejudice against this form of benefit owing to my interest in one of the commercial companies which handle mortality insurance, but even that does not influence me one way or the other. I shall refer again to the matter when I have dealt with retirement pensions.

I come now to what I have substituted for Deputy Norton's contributory retirement pension at age 65 in the case of men and age 60 in the case of women. There are a few facts which, however, I should like Deputies to have in mind when they come to consider this question of retirement from gainful and productive occupation in order to qualify for a contributory old age pension. It has been stated on more than one occasion recently by the Director of Statistics that the average age of the male farmer in Ireland is as high as 56 years, and 30 per cent. of them are over 65 years. One-fifth of the farmers in Ireland are women, most of them widows, and their average age is actually more than 60 years. When Deputy Norton decided to adopt the proposals in my "scrap of paper" and offered an inducement, such as it was, to men and women to cease employment at ages 65 and 60 respectively, I wonder did he realise that management and production in our main industry is in the hands of so many who, according to his view of things, should be regarded as beyond their toil?

When he passed for publication paragraph 83 of the White Paper, in which the reductions from 70 years to 65 for men and 60 for women are stated to be in keeping with the modern tendency and to follow a recommendation of the International Labour Office, did he consider the full import, in our country, of what the paragraph went on to state:—

"The main underlying reason for this tendency is the need to facilitate ageing workers who find it difficult to keep their place in industry owing to its quickening tempo and increasing mechanisation"?

Surely this is not a sound reason when considered in relation to agricultural Ireland, where even non-agricultural industry is of the lighter kind, and the quickening tempo and increasing mechanisation are inappreciable? Both he and the I.L.O., I suggest, had in mind a very different type of industrialisation from that which we have here. Neither he nor the I.L.O. can have been thinking of Irish conditions.

Even during the 20 years between 1926 and 1946 the expectation of life, at birth, for males in the Twenty-Six Counties increased from 57.4 years to 60.5 years—i.e., by 3.1 per cent.—and the comparable figure for England and Wales was (1930-32) 58.7. This is a general tendency; in the United States of America life expectancy at birth in 1950 reached a new high of over 68 years, having doubled in about two generations and increased by no less than 21½ years in four decades. Deputies should look at the percentage distribution of our population in the various age groups over the years and bear in mind the steady trend over the past century. I shall refer only to the over-65-years' group. In 1946 they formed 10.6 per cent. of our population as against 9.7 per cent. in 1936; 9.1 per cent. in 1926; 6.5 per cent. in 1901, and so on down to 3.1 per cent. in 1841. The population, here and elsewhere, is becoming increasingly weighted by old age.

Our neighbours in Britain, who operate a scheme of contributory retirement pensions, are, largely because of it, facing what is almost a crisis in the financing of their insurance scheme. I wish, also, to examine more fully the implications, as they affect our particular economy, of inducements to retirements. In this last connection, it may interest the House to know—my authority is the Second Report of the British Ministry of National Insurance—that in Great Britain the monetary incentives of a pension at 65 for men and 60 for women have, in fact, played little part in encouraging retirement. Nearly two-thirds of the men and half the women in that country go on working after those ages, although the retiring allowance is substantially higher than we can offer here. Five years later, that is at age 70 years (men) and 65 (women), 30 per cent. of the men and 20 per cent. of the women are still at work. Conditions generally are not comparable, of course, and there is, in that country's scheme, a monetary incentive to carry on at work in that a higher pension is, in due course, awarded to those who delay their retirement. The experience in Great Britain goes to prove one thing, that we on this side of the House are nearer to the truth than the Labour Party when we say that most men do not wish to retire at 65 if they are in good health.

How many employers will keep them on after that?

We are dealing with that; we have dealt adequately with that. Higher non-contributory old age pensions at age 70, subject to a very liberal means test, are being made available without transferring two-thirds of the cost from the Exchequer to the insurance contributions of workers and employers.

I hope that the House has grasped the full significance of what I have provided, in sub-section (2) of Section 16, as an alternative to retirement pensions at age 65. There is, in that section, such a relaxation of the qualifications for unemployment benefit that any normally insured worker who has reached 65 years can draw unemployment benefit continuously until he attains pensionable age provided he satisfies the ordinary conditions that he is available for, and genuinely seeking, employment. If he is unfit for employment because of ill-health, he is, of course, looked after by disability benefit. These provisions should satisfy any Deputy who has a genuine fear that the man over 65 is no longer able to work, or if able, will not be offered employment. I have very little doubt that when Deputies consider fully what is being done by that section they will agree with me that it is an incomparably better approach to the problem of the 65-70 age group than that which Deputy Norton sponsored. It will surprise me very much if the general body of workers, who are far from enthusiastic about substantially higher insurance contributions, do not wholeheartedly welcome my proposal.

From 65 to 70, then, any worker under this Bill may continue to work and draw his wage, or, if not able to work, or cannot find work, he can draw benefits equal to those offered by the Coalition as a retirement pension. So far he is certainly better off. At 70 he can get 20/- old age pension. He may think that is too small—4/- less than that provided in Mr. Norton's Bill. Is he prepared to pay for this addition? I do not know, and for that reason I have not completely closed my mind to contributory retirement pensions. It must be remembered that the State is now paying the full 20/- per week. If we should at a future date consider a scheme it would fall to be financed entirely by workers and employers and would be in addition to the 20/- per week at age 70 from the State. If at any time I am satisfied that workers generally want such a scheme, I shall be prepared to produce it and, if they so desire, a scheme of death benefits as well.

Part VI of the Bill deals with the non-contributory pensions schemes for widows, orphans, the aged and the blind. The provisions relating to widows and orphans follow the pattern of the contributory side of the scheme, and here again substantial improvement is being effected. The present rate of pension for a widow without children is 14/- a week in an urban area and 10/- a week in a rural area. This will be raised to 20/- a week, irrespective of area of residence, under the Bill. In this instance, of the 27,000 beneficiaries, about 22,000, or almost 82 per cent., are widows without children. These, together with a further 4,000, or 15 per cent. (that is, a total of 97 per cent.) will receive increases of 6/- or 10/- a week. Just under 99 per cent. of all beneficiaries will receive some increase in pension, and no widow will get less than she has now.

The means test for widows' non-contributory pensions is very considerably relaxed. Under present legislation, a widow will obtain a maximum pension only if her means are less than 7/- a week, or £18 4s. a year. If her income is from personal exertions, she receives an additional income exemption of 10/- a week. If she has children she is entitled to an additional exemption of 4/- for an only child or 8/- for two or more children. As from the 2nd January, 1953, under this Bill, the £18 4s., together with the other exemptions applicable to the particular cases cited, will be replaced by a means scale under which the maximum pension will be payable if means do not exceed £52 10s. per annum, or just over 20/-.

The proposals relating to widows' non-contributory pensions contain another feature, namely, the very large measure of co-ordination which has been achieved between that scheme and old age and blind pensions. The relaxation of the means test has made it possible to apply practically identical rules for calculating means. These rules are contained in the Seventh Schedule.

I come next to that important portion of the Bill which relates to old age and blind pensions. Firstly, I want to remind Deputies that the Social Welfare Act, 1951, brought about an all-round increase in old age and blind pensions—increasing the maximum weekly rate from 17/6 to 20/- and providing for increases of 5/- and 2/6 down the scale. Five shilling and 7/6 pensions were increased to 10/-; 10/- and 12/6 pensions were increased to 15/; and 15/- and 17/6 pensions were increased to 20/-. The raising of the upper means limit from £52 5s. to £65 5s. a year provided for a new class of pensioners at 5/-. Certain other concessions were given to the small farmer class, and to persons getting disability and similar pensions and charitable grants.

Provision is made in the Bill for a very generous further easing of the means test. The lower limit, which is at present £22 2s. 6d. a year (8/6 a week), for the receipt of full old age or blind pension of 20/- a week, is being raised to £52 10s. (£1 a week). A person who has a pound a week income from other sources (when all deductions to which he may be entitled have been made) will now be able to qualify for the maximum 20/- old age or blind pension, instead of 10/- as heretofore. The upper limit is being raised from £65 5s. (25/- a week) to £104 15s. (£2 a week), and persons with income over 25/- and up to £2 a week, as duly calculated under the Acts, will qualify, as from the 2nd January, 1953, for a 10/- or a 5/- pension. All existing old age and blind pensioners at the 15/- and 10/- rates will have their pensions increased to 20/- and those at the 5/- rate will go up to 15/-, as from the appointed day. Some 14,000 existing pensioners will benefit by these increases.

The Bill provides for the pension officer reviewing every existing pension in his area and adjusting it to the appropriate new weekly rate, to take effect as from the appointed day. It will not then be necessary to follow the usual procedure of submitting questions for adjustment of pensions to local old age pensions committees, and this reviewing procedure will effect the adjusting to the new rates more expeditiously than would be otherwise possible.

Are the old age pensions committees going to be abolished?

No, it is only for this particular operation.

The old age pensions committees will still be on the scrap heap; you have left them on the scrap heap still. Wait until we see.

The Bill also amends the residence test by reducing the aggregate period of necessary residence in the State from 30 years to 15 years and by providing for five years' continuous residence up to the date of claim instead of the existing requisite of 16 years' residence after age 50 years in the case of a non-citizen. The period of residence after age 50 in the case of a citizen is reduced from six years to five years. The amendment is meant to bring the Acts more into line with modern thought in the matter of discrimination against aliens in countries subscribing to the views of the Council of Europe. The residence provision in the case of blind persons is being similarly amended.

Section 80 is intended to avoid the somewhat anomalous position which has arisen where a widow who had been in receipt of a widow's non-contributory pension is, on reaching 70 years, not qualified on residence grounds for, and as a result debarred from getting, an old age pension. This arises under the Acts as they stand on account of the difference in the residence qualification as between the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Acts (two years) and the Old Age Pensions Acts (30 years aggregate and six or 16 years after age 50 years). It is thought that the woman who had been granted the one pension on residence grounds should not in equity be debarred from the other on the same grounds. This section exempts such widow from the residence test for old age pension.

The Seventh Schedule provides a codification of the existing provisions of the Old Age Pensions Acts (and the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Acts) as regards the calculation of means, with some adjustments and concessions brought in, to the advantage of the claimants. For example, the exclusion of home assistance in the reckoning of means is now given legal effect. Any sums received under any other of the social welfare codes will no longer be reckoned as means. Under the Old Age Pensions Acts, as at present in force, only grants from defined charitable organisations, up to a yearly maximum of £52 5s., are excluded from a person's means. The new rules provide that a voluntary grant from any source up to the same maximum will be excluded in the calculation of means.

The gross additional cost of the benefits of all kinds provided for in this Bill is estimated to be of the order of £4,250,000 in a full year. Social welfare schemes of this kind run by my Department at present cost about £16,500,000 a year, so that when the cost of administration (estimated at something over £1,500,000, including allied services) is taken into account, the gross bill for social welfare will in future come to £22,250,000.

Excluding administration, the services are divisible into the broad categories of insurance (including treatment benefits) costing £7,550,000 and assistance costing £13,150,000. Apart from a receipt of about £250,000 from local authorities, the assistance bill will be met in full by the Exchequer, as will also the treatment benefits, but the insurance bill (as well as part of the administrative costs) will be provided by insured persons, their employers and the State and by the yield on the funds, as follows:—

Insured Persons









The State will accordingly be called upon to bear £12,900,000 on the assistance side, £2,800,000 on the insurance side (including £500,000 for treatment benefits)—an outlay of £15,700,000, to which must be added the balance of the administrative charges, making a total of about £16,750,000, as compared with the present figure of about £14,000,000. This increase of £2,750,000 does not, of course, include the cost of increasing the rate of old age pensions by 2/6 a week, which figures already in the present Estimates, and therefore in the figure of £14,000,000 mentioned.

The proceeds of insurance stamps at present yield about £4,100,000, so that the increase in revenue from insurance stamps will be about £750,000— divisible between employers and employees.

The costs which I have quoted are those arising in a full year. In the coming year, 1952/53, the scheme will come fully into operation only for three months, but the increased benefits will be payable during nine months and the increased contributions receivable during six months. These various features are estimated to have the effect of throwing a charge of something under £2,000,000 on the Exchequer over and above what is in the Estimates already, as compared with the charge on the Exchequer of £2,750,000 in a full year.

I think I have dealt fully with the provisions of the Bill. If I have not made myself plain to Deputies I shall endeavour to answer any further questions at the conclusion of the debate.

I would like now to refer to services that are not included or not fully covered. The proposals for maternity benefits are not as generous as those which first appeared in the basis for a White Paper prepared in 1947 and afterwards in Deputy Norton's Bill. As Minister for Health, I hope to produce a health scheme before long. This scheme will deal, amongst other things, with maternity and child welfare. I considered it wiser to wait on the health proposals before altering the maternity grant now payable to the wife of an insured man. It will be noted that the insured woman is well looked after in the Bill, because maternity benefit payable during her absence from work falls properly to be dealt with under social welfare.

The 1947 "Scrap of Paper" also recommended a marriage grant of £50. Mr. Norton rejected the idea in toto. I, and probably for the reason that prompted Deputy Norton, have reduced the recommendation to £10. It is as much as we can afford but I had a good reason for including it apart from a well-established custom. An undesirable practice has developed under which many insured women, on marriage, try to draw unemployment insurance or sickness benefits until their stamps are exhausted. It is very often a dishonest transaction because the woman is neither disabled not seeking work. It is better on the whole to give £10 and close their account. If they continue to work or re-enter employment they must commence again the same as those entering insurance for the first time.

Children's allowances and unemployment assistance are not mentioned in the Bill. As I explained earlier, my first intention was to deal with insurance schemes only. It is considered unfair, however, to leave non-contributory widows as they are while contributory widows are getting substantial improvements, their needs being equally urgent. When it was decided to include non-contributory widows the question of means test arose. Added to this was my promise to deal with the old age pension means test at the first possible opportunity. This explains the departure from a purely Insurance Bill. It was always my intention, however, to proceed without delay with the preparation of an Assistance Bill which would deal with children's allowances. The House may be assured that this promise will be honoured. At the same time I have asked for a memorandum on unemployment assistance, which I propose to review. The unemployment assistance code is very complicated. I would like to have it simplified somewhat on the pattern of unemployment insurance. Being an assistance scheme the benefits must necessarily be lower, with a means test.

The Government is serious about this Bill. It is intended to have increased benefits in operation by July 1st and the necessary funds for its implementation will form part of the Budget to be introduced next week.

Once more I must refer to the proposals for a White Paper prepared by the Department in 1947. Deputy Norton based his scheme on these proposals, departing from them only in a few details. They followed Beveridge's plan for England closely and were, consequently, acceptable to Deputy Norton. In any case, he was saved the trouble of thinking out an alternative scheme. I considered the proposals unsuitable for this country. I had to do my own thinking on alternatives and had to do it quickly as the Government were of opinion that too much time had already been lost. I have to face a heavy handicap because opposite are Parties and Deputies who are not likely to believe that an Irish Minister could produce something better now to suit Irish conditions than the British article.

The Labour Party has put down an amendment which enumerates their demands for the inclusion of certain provisions in this Bill. I have dealt with children's allowances, but I would not be human if I did not appreciate the unconscious compliment they pay me in saying that the Labour Party expects more from me than from Deputy Norton. I have dealt extensively with retirement allowances and death benefits. They also demand unemployment benefits for female domestics and female farm workers. I confess that I could find no satisfactory solution for female farm workers except to leave them to be dealt with under unemployment assistance for which they will be eligible under this Bill. When new proposals come along for unemployment assistance, they will probably be almost as favourable as the unemployment insurance proposed by Deputy Norton for lowly-paid workers and there will be no contributions required. This is a question that can be discussed on Committee and I can assure the House that I believe I am doing what is best, but I am open to conviction if new facts are brought to my notice. As regards domestic workers, we all know there is no unemployment and not likely to be. I consider it unnecessary and unfair to seek contributions from those women for unemployment insurance when we know that they cannot possibly qualify for benefit.

I have gone into the scope of the scheme and given what I believe to be sound reasons for confining it to the classes who can qualify for benefits and are likely to need them. I submit, therefore, that there is no case for the amendment on practical grounds and that it should have no support, except from those who hold doctrinaire views on I.L.O. Beveridge lines, but we are dealing with conditions in Ireland and we should frame our legislation accordingly.

Those who are inclined to support this amendment will no doubt realise that they are thereby asking me to amend this Bill to the extent of including all that Deputy Norton had in his Bill in 1951. That would necessitate a revision of the contributions which, the House will recollect, were computed to be 3/6 per week on the worker and 3/6 on the employer. A vote for the amendment, if seriously cast, will mean a vote for these contributions. As a matter of fact, it means more than that, as I must explain before concluding.

I have given an estimate of the cost of benefits per year and the cost of administration. Against that, I have given the income. The only service under this Bill that is likely to increase in cost with the years is contributory widows' and orphans' pensions. This, however, will not be a substantial increase, and it will be mitigated to some extent by a reduction in the cost of non-contributory widows' and orphans' pensions. In the provision of income, I have allowed for the increase over three years.

In the Coalition scheme, retirement pensions and death benefits were included. The actuary calculated that payments would go on increasing under that scheme for about 30 years and in the earlier memoranda the costs were given up to the 20th year. This table appeared in every memorandum, including the final submission to the Minister, but in the draft White Paper as approved by the Government, the portion of the table beyond five years was deleted. If Deputies were aware of the full facts and if the full table had been left in the White Paper for publication, they would realise that 3/6 each for the worker, the employer and the State would not be nearly sufficient to meet the cost after some seven or eight years. As a matter of fact, it would show that the State contribution would increase in 20 years from £4,000,000 to £9,000,000. The Government had its own reasons for suppressing this information—whether good or bad, I do not know. I suspect that the Fine Gael members of the Government insisted on the suppression as they were afraid of the reaction on their own members. It is well that the Fine Gael back bencher should not be left in ignorance any longer, and that he should know what he is asked to vote for by his allies in the Labour Party. I recommend the Bill to the House, and I ask for its approval without amendment.

Not bad for our Mr. Butler.

Let the Opposition take their little dose of vinegar and gall now. It will be good for their livers.

I move:—

To delete all words after "That" and substitute the following:—

"Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill because it proposes to establish an income limit, coverage is not provided in respect of unemployment for female domestic and female farm workers and provision is not made in the Bill for the following benefits:—

(1) retirement pensions without a means test at 65 years of age (60 years for women),

(2) death benefits as provided for in the Social Welfare (Insurance) (No. 2) Bill, 1950,

(3) increased maternity grant,

(4) maternity attendance allowance, and

(5) increased children's allowances."

We have listened to a long speech by the Minister from a prepared brief and I have never listened to a more dishonest brief in the hands of a Minister than the one which has just been read. The brief is reeking with political bias, a political bias that I know only too well in the Department over which the Minister now presides, and it is unworthy of a civil servant. It is obviously the product of the political officer of the Fianna Fáil Party in the Department.

The Minister is responsible for the Bill here and any criticisms should be addressed to him.

I am charging the Minister now with using the political officer to prepare a brief of this kind which should not have been prepared by a civil servant.

It is true.

Is it in order to attack a civil servant who has no opportunity of defending himself against these slanderous statements?

It would not be the first time that officer was slanderous.

The Minister will take the responsibility now for the brief he has read.

I will.

And I will make sure that he will take it.

Attack me, because I am able to defend myself.

You will take the responsibility.


And you are responsible for the production of this brief?

Every word of it.

Because you got it from your political officer.

A mean attack on him.

The Chair has already pointed out that the Minister is responsible for the Bill and references to civil servants are completely out of order.

I know the Minister is responsible, and I am holding him responsible for the game he tried to play on the House to-day.

We know the publicity officer you had.

Now, my disappointed lord mayor, you stay quiet.

The disappointed Taoiseach.

If he does not keep quiet, we will have to send for Deputy Corry. He keeps him in order.

Deputy Norton is in possession.

The Minister attempted in the course of his speech to attribute to me responsibility for a variety of sins of omission and commission in the Department, and sought to pretend to the House and the country that he left behind a ready-made plan on social security. I say that that is a dishonest statement and is not true. There was no detailed plan of social security in the Department of Social Welfare. I will traverse the ground now and we will see where that plan was. Anything I saw in the Department when I went there—and the documentation is available—was merely a copy of heads of a scheme that might be introduced.

A scrap of paper.

Would you, Sir, keep Deputy Killilea in order or send him back to Strasbourg?

Deputy Norton is entitled to speak without interruption.

These were simply heads of a scheme that might or might not be introduced. Anything and everything was put down on a sheet of paper as something that might be considered, as something that was considered.

A sheet of paper.

You can get all the waste paper you like in the Department. The Minister's signature is not on any of these documents. I asked the Department to show me any document on which the Minister had written in connection with social welfare and they indicated a sheet of paper of very small size, with one sentence in the Minister's handwriting on it.

I never claimed that I wrote it.

You never gave a decision in the Department on anything.

It was all ready for the Minister.

We listened in patience to the Minister, who ought to conduct himself now. He is a Minister now and paid for being a gentlemanly Minister, and let him conduct himself for the rest of the debate.

If the back benchers will leave it to you, I will stop. I am merely answering them.

I say, and I assert it, challenging anybody to prove the contrary, that in the Department there were a number of heads of things that might or might not go into a scheme of social security. In the main, these features were got from the British scheme of national insurance and the British documentation about this scheme was more obvious in the Department than any documentation about our decided scheme, because there was no decided scheme at the time.

The Minister read a list of things that happened, a list of the progress on the comprehensive scheme, as he called it. He started off in April, 1947, with a memorandum of observations to assist discussions on the question as to who should be insured. Then there came a series of formal conferences down to the 21st July, and the Minister appears at the formal conference on the 21st July, when it was stated that he was there. The minute of the meeting shows that there was a general exchange of views and that costs were to be prepared. There were no costs up to then. Then there is a record of certain memoranda being prepared.

Right through the whole lot there was not a single decision given on any one of the hundreds of issues which had to be decided before any scheme of social security could ever see the light of day. The Minister knows perfectly well that he gave no decisions on the hundreds of issues which I had to decide subsequently, and the officials of the Department of Social Welfare, with one exception, will, I have no hesitation in saying, submit to the Minister an abundance of memoranda which were submitted to me for decision. They got those decisions. They could never have got the decisions were it not for the fact that I took them, and thus smoothed the path of the present Minister for Social Welfare.

We are told that Fianna Fáil had a ready-made plan in 1948. That is a falsehood. There was no ready-made plan there, and I defy anybody in the Department of Social Welfare to produce a ready-made plan. Is it suggested now that these officials, in 1948, 1949 and 1950, were idling their time, fooling about looking for decisions which had already been taken? Is it suggested that they were looking for another plan when there was a plan there? There was no plan there. There were heads there, heads that you could get in any booklet on social security in any country in the world. Not a single decision was taken on any one of these heads.

He admitted to-day that he did not take decisions.

Let us deal with some of the points raised by the Minister before we deal with the Bill proper. When I went to the Department of Social Welfare in February, 1948, one of the first things I wanted to do was to raise old age pensions, blind pensions and widows' and orphans' pensions and to modify the means test because I felt our people were being treated outrageously in the low rates of benefit which were then being paid to them. When I went to the Department of Social Welfare, I said to the Department that I wanted to tackle this question, that I wanted to deal with this question as a matter of priority. The advice I got there from certain people was: "Do not touch the assistance schemes. Leave them over. Leave the old age pension over. Leave the blind pension over. Leave the non-contributory widows' and orphans' pensions over. What we want to do is to deal with the comprehensive scheme, to deal with the White Paper." I took this simple decision: I had to choose between producing a White Paper, which was the advice I then got, or concentrating my efforts at that time and in that year on producing legislation which would raise old age pensions, blind pensions, non-contributory widows' and orphans' pensions and which would modify the means test. I rejected the advice I then got—I am delighted since that I rejected it—and, instead, I put through this House the Social Welfare Bill of 1948, a Bill which put £2,500,000 into the pockets of blind persons, old age pensioners, and recipients of non-contributory widows' and orphans' pensions. They got that £2,500,000 in 1948 from us and under my Bill and they have got nothing like it since and they will not get it under this Bill.

And took it from the relieving officer.

What do we find? In 1948 the maximum old age pension payable in a rural area was 12/6, with the prospect that if you were untouchable because of your poverty you might squeeze another 2/6 as a maximum out of a home assistance officer—who had not enough money to give you the 2/6. That was the position then. We lifted that 12/6 up to 17/6. We did in one year more than had been done in the previous 30 years for old age pensioners and blind pensioners. We gave them 17/6 instead of 12/6.

Ten shillings.

When we were going out of office last year we put through a Second Reading in this House a Bill to increase the 17/6 to £1 and we left the money in the Budget to pay the £1 which they are getting to-day. Read the speech of the Minister for Finance last year and you will see that he specially refers to the fact that portion of the £1.5 millions then provided in the Estimate was in respect of increased old age pensions and blind pensions for six months of this year. That is there and the Department officials know that authority for the expenditure of that money was given by the Government and provision was made, as you can see by reading the speech made on the Budget last May, for the payment of these increases. Let us see what was done in 1948. Old age pensions were increased, blind pensions were increased, widows' and orphans' pensions were increased, the means test was modified. Old age pensions were lifted from 12/6 to 17/6——

From 10/- in some cases.

Yes, in rural areas. As a result we did immeasurably more for the old age pensioners in our short period of office than was ever done for them since the Old Age Pensions Act was introduced in 1908. £2,500,000 found its way into the pockets of those unfortunate people. Fianna Fáil never gave them anything like £2,500,000 in a single year. They are getting that to-day, thanks to my Bill of 1948 and thanks to my colleagues in the inter-Party Government.

The Minister sought to give the impression that he had taken decisions. There is a Cabinet procedure in relation to Bills and in relation to Government decisions. Before you introduce a Bill here in the House you have to circulate draft heads of it to Departments and get their views. You have to get their views on a summary of the Bill and get their views on the complete Bill. You have to get Finance approval and Government approval. It is a long and painful process, especially to any Minister who wants to push these things through; but it is a long-established procedure and those who defend it say that in the long run it makes for haste.

That is something I could never see, but the wiseacres say that it is so. All that long procedure had to be gone through before you could say you had a plan approved by anyone. Not a single one of those steps was taken towards having a Fianna Fáil plan ready, and if the Minister for Social Welfare alleges to the contrary, let him bring the documents to the House and read them before this debate concludes. I venture to say that he knows as well as he is sitting there that he never took any of those steps and that, whether what was in the Department was heads, or promises of consideration, or probabilities or maybe improbabilities, they never got to the stage in which a single vote or decision was taken on any scheme. The record of the Minister's discussions on the progress of a comprehensive scheme proves conclusively that there was no scheme in the Department which had the approval of anyone, even of the Minister, when he left office in 1948.

In fact, of all these conferences over a year, the Minister attended only one of them—only one of them—and the only note I could find in the Department under the Minister's head was one sentence, in which he expressed astonishment about the number of people whose income was below £3 10s. and the number above £3 10s.

The Minister talked about a marriage grant. I was anxious to put a marriage grant into my scheme. I would still like to do it. I do not want to discuss in public why it did not find its way into the scheme, but the Minister's officials know and can advise him as to why it was finally dropped. It was not the money; there were other considerations. It was not that I wanted to abandon it. It was discontinued on certain advice, but it was no desire to save money that resulted in dropping the provision for a marriage gratuity. In any case, I proposed to enable a person to get a marriage gratuity in different circumstances from those in which the Minister is giving it. I proposed to give to an insured man and an insured woman, any time they decided to marry, a certain gratuity, and the contributions would be loaded accordingly. The Minister is merely giving a gratuity when the insured woman marries. I suppose that the number affected by this provision in any one year will not be very large, and, in any case, the Minister is doing very little more than giving to that person in many instances the accumulated credit standing in that person's name in the funds of the society.

There are some other points mentioned by the Minister. He said that in our Bill we proposed to give a lesser rate of benefit to farm workers in respect of sickness and unemployment. We had the problem in 1948 and 1949 of dealing with the question of the lowly paid worker. We had to look at two points of view—one, could he pay the same rate of contribution as the higher paid worker; and, two, if you gave him the same rates of benefit as the higher paid worker you would probably bring his rates of benefit very, very close to, if indeed not in excess of, the wages which he was actually receiving and it was felt that in the beginning that would be an imprudent course on which to embark. But the problem of the lowly paid worker has gone. The last Government solved that problem. No agricultural worker to-day has less than £3 10s. per week, thanks to the inter-Party Government, thanks to the efforts of the trade union concerned to get them higher rates of wages. Under my Bill those people would not now be getting a lower rate of benefit than the ordinary worker because they, being over 70/-, would get the same rate of benefit and pay the same contribution as every ordinary worker for sickness coverage and unemployment benefit. It is dishonest, therefore, to contend that my Bill would have given the agricultural worker a lower rate of benefit. He would have got the same rate as a carpenter under my Bill—for one reason, because he had more than £3 10s. and so had the carpenter. The Minister tries to pretend that in our Bill we were giving him a lesser rate of benefit. We never referred to the agricultural worker in the Bill at all. Anyone who prepared the brief ought to have known that. We referred only to people paid below £3 10s. We took it not on a vocational basis or on grade or craft basis but on a salary and wage basis and we said: "In the case of a young person, an apprentice or an improver or the generality of people who start off at a low wage, they pay a lower rate of contribution and you have to watch the benefit on the other side; but they will grow out of that situation and once they move over £3 10s. they will get the full rate of benefit under our scheme." The Minister knows that, and if he were honest he ought to admit it.

The Minister talked about civil servants and the possibility of exempting them under the scheme. Of course it would be an impudence to try to bring established civil servants, teachers, Gardaí or the Army in under a Bill of this kind. It is a shadow, and only a shadow, of the Bill which I introduced in this House last year. Under that Bill you could have justified bringing in those people because it was a comprehensive scheme which applied to everybody employed under contract of service. In justification you could point to the scheme and say: "It is a good scheme. It provides you with retirement pension at 65 with an allowance for your wife as well, with death benefit, increased maternity grant and maternity allowance." Every one of these things is almost certain. Almost every person will reach the age of 65, and everybody who reaches 65 will get benefit; there is a reasonable prospect of that, and they will get an allowance for their wives. Certainly they will die or some of their family will die and they will get the benefit, while if children are born they will get increased grants and allowances. You could say to civil servants, Gardaí or soldiers: "If you are included in the scheme there is a very good chance that you will get benefits of this kind."

Why should they be asked to pay for this piece of legislation? They are to be insured only for sickness and unemployment. They will never get the old age pension if they have an ordinary pension because the means test will disqualify them and the only other thing which is covered is the widows' and orphans' pension, and that is already covered if they have less than £500 a year. To bring them in under a Bill of this kind is a piece of impudence. It is nothing but that to expect them to pay these contributions for risks which can never materialise. If the Guard, teacher, civil servant or soldier is sick he gets sick pay from the service in which he is employed. He is not likely to be unemployed because he is in regular employment. Why ask them, therefore, to pay for these two risks when you have taken away every other tangible benefit which they could have got under the scheme which I introduced?

If it is intended to bring them into this piece of legislation it is only for the purpose of buttressing the Exchequer, for the purpose of getting money out of their pockets to help to pay the Exchequer allocation to the scheme, because the Minister knows, and the civil servants, teachers, Gardaí and soldiers know that they can never get a benefit. The Bill is a tax, as they have no chance of ever getting the limited benefits provided. To their certain knowledge, they now cannot get the benefits provided in my Bill of 1948.

Let me go on to the Bill proper. The Minister is fortunate—although apparently he does not recognise how fortunate—in that he had not to spend much time considering the Bill and making decisions upon it. This was a ready-made Bill as far as the Minister was concerned. Its principle had been approved by this House on Second Reading. Decisions had been given on all major matters, not only those contained in the Bill but those which would flow from it, and an administrative machine of substantial dimensions had already been built up in the Department of Social Welfare. During my time there a number of highly placed and competent officers were withdrawn from their normal duties to perfect an administrative machine which would take the impact of the Social Welfare Bill when it passed into law. The Minister, therefore, was placed in the position that he had a ready-made Bill, decisions on every matter of importance and an administrative machine. He could at any time have ascertained from his officials the amount of time and energy that went into these decisions and the building up of the administrative machine. Let the Minister ask them whether there was any delay in its preparation. Let him ask them whether they were not pressed, day in and day out, by me to produce the Bill with the utmost expedition. I know that they worked hard-those with whom I had intimate contact. They were necessarily cautious in dealing with a Bill of this kind and sometimes I was impatient and irritated. On reflection, one regrets that, because it was driving willing officers too hard. I would pay this tribute to those with whom I had intimate contact: they worked hard and they worked willingly; each and every one of them was imbued with one idea, to produce the best possible scheme for social welfare to fit the needs of the Irish people, and they were concerned with neither a British scheme, a German scheme nor any other scheme.

The Minister could if he wanted have re-introduced our Bill unaltered, but he did not do that. The Minister had one simple task: To use the axe for the purpose of cutting down the benefits we provided, and no special skill was needed for that because this Bill is exactly the same as the one we introduced except that many valuable benefits of importance to the workers have been removed, and now the workers will not get the benefits we provided for them in our Bill.

The Minister has been fortunate in another respect. When we were working on this matter we brought in a very comprehensive White Paper on social security. Here again I would like to pay tribute to the officers who were personally responsible for the preparation of that document. It does them credit; it does the cause of social security credit; it does their intelligence credit because they threw into the public arena for discussion a White Paper on a highly technical subject for the public, who were not too well informed on social security problems, to chew on, so that they could ascertain the basis on which social security could be reared.

The moment we issued that White Paper a flock of critics and cranks descended vulture-like on the document, and the grossest of misrepresentation was indulged in by many of these worthies. Some of these people, of course, were just natural or traditional cranks; some were fighting against any improvement in the condition of the workers, which is the special recreation of some cranks in the community; some were fighting to preserve vested interests, so that they would not be disturbed. I could understand, even if I did not agree with, an individual who wanted to fight for the maintenance of privilege and vested interest; I can make allowances for the traditional cranks, the soreheads, a proportion of which inevitably infiltrate into every community, but I must say that I was impatient and intolerant of the uninformed critics, some of whom should have known better, and their approach to the problems which we presented in the White Paper. Some of these people set themselves up as moralists, to advise the Government and to advise Parliament what should be done.

I am afraid that so far as many of them were concerned, the difficulty was that they mixed their politics with their morality and we got a hotch-potch from the political moralists whose views on this, or any other matter, are of very little concern to people who want to get down to basic truth. We had to fight these people. We had to deal with these people. We had to develop counter-arguments to be used against these people. It was not a very easy task particularly in view of the fact that our political opponents at the time were gleefully rubbing their hands because the political moralists outside were supporting the point of view of the Fianna Fáil Party.

I have before me a Press cutting showing what one of these gentlemen says about our social security scheme. Heaven knows, his degrees ought to have inoculated him against giving utterance to such stupid views. He said the scheme would cause the collapse of the savings movement because people would not save when the State would look after them in their old age. He said it was a piece of class legislation which discriminated against the poor and the casual worker, who were cut out from benefit, while it catered for such classes as bank managers and High Court judges. He said employers did not want it. He said it would encourage idleness amongst a certain class which would not work while they could get paid to be idle, even though there was an abundance of work in the country.

These views are typical of the lying statements made against the workers here: they will not work. Every decent, honest, Irish worker is only too anxious to work. The last place he wants to go is into the employment exchange either to get unemployment benefit or employment assistance. His sole concern is to get work, and keep that work so that he can provide for himself and his family. Lying statements of that kind are not only unworthy of those who make them, but they do a gross disservice to and are a serious libel on honest, decent workers here.

That was the kind of propaganda we had to put up with; that was the kind of propaganda we had to meet. That was the kind of propaganda that is apparently absent to-day for one of two reasons: one, either because we dealt with it at the time and killed it by counter-argument, or, secondly, the moralists have turned out to be merely the political followers of the Fianna Fáil Party—and that also is true—and were more concerned with trying to discredit our scheme from the political angle than they were with examining its moral basis.

This scheme is exactly the same as our scheme in its basis. There is no difference whatsoever between the basis of this scheme and the basis of the scheme we introduced. This scheme requires contributions from the worker, contributions from the State, contributions from the employer. Our scheme was identical.

It is a different contribution, though.

I am afraid the Deputy does not understand the difference between the basis and the mechanics that operate on that basis.

Or wangling.

I think the Deputy's talents are specially reserved for Strasbourg. As I said, I would have appreciated these folk had they shown a really sympathetic approach to the problems of the ordinary worker here. I think it is asking human nature to endure too much when one finds smug people, who do not know what it is to lose an income through sickness or idleness, who have not the problem of providing for a wife and young family through the medium of running into debt and whose old age is insulated against the possibility of poverty, climbing on to the band wagon of vested interests and engaging in a campaign against a Bill which was designed solely for the purpose of giving a better deal to the toiling masses of our people.

I had little use for those people and I think it is a tribute to this House, notwithstanding all the propaganda from the Fianna Fáil Party and from the so-called political moralists, that the Bill was able to get a Second Reading. It showed at all events that this House, or the free section of it, regarded the vapourings of those who mix their morality with their politics as just so much clotted nonsense.

The Minister is now in the happy position, apparently, that he has none of these noisy critics around him. For that he must thank his predecessor in large measure for having borne the brunt of the Victorian views and the deliberate misrepresentations of those who unleashed their fury on the Bill for which we were responsible. When the Fianna Fáil Party left office in 1948 we were told within a few days of their leaving office that they had a plan. We were told that the plan was a ready-made plan. It was one of those Fianna Fáil plans, ahead of everything else, a regular record-breaker, something that would be a world wonder and convulse the intellectual talents of our people the moment they were permitted to gaze on that plan. So far as that type of propaganda was concerned, I think I have shown that in fact Fianna Fáil had no plan; they had a collection of hasty headings without a single decision having been taken under any one of them.

It was not until 1951 that we began to get a glimpse of the so-called plan. We got it then at the end of a long speech by Deputy Dr. Ryan, as he then was, on the Second Reading of the Social Welfare Bill, 1950. Deputy Dr. Ryan then unfolded his plan. He told us it was the plan for which Fianna Fáil stood. He told it was the plan Fianna Fáil would implement. He was quite satisfied that the plan would be a satifactory one so far as the masses of the people were concerned.

The strange thing about the speeches on that Bill was the unanimity of the Fianna Fáil view that a comprehensive scheme was necessary. That was one of the claims made by Fianna Fáil when my Bill was under discussion. Deputy Dr. Ryan said he was in favour of a comprehensive scheme. Some other members of his Party deplored the fact that there were exclusions in my Bill and they believed that everybody should be covered. Deputy Dr. Ryan returned to say that the scheme they would bring in would be a better scheme so far as those affected by it were concerned.

Later, on the day after this matter was discussed in the Dáil, the Fianna Fáil Press organ published a statement setting out what the Fianna Fáil proposals were as compared with the proposals made in the Bill introduced by the Government. Now it is worth while examining the promises then made by the Fianna Fáil Party in respect of social welfare and their performance as revealed in this Bill, and at the same time to observe the similarity between the good points in our Bill and whatever good points are in this Bill. For example, in our Bill we provided sickness benefit at the rate of 24/- for an insured person, 12/- for the wife and 7/- for each of two children. That is exactly the same as is in the Fianna Fáil Bill. Word for word and line for line it has been taken from our Bill. We proposed to provide unemployment benefit at the same rate as sickness benefit. In our Bill we provided for a maximum of 50/- per week for a man, his wife and two children. In this Bill the provision is exactly the same as in our Bill. Word for word and line for line the whole section is copied. In our Bill we proposed to raise widows' and orphans' pensions — contributory pensions — to 24/- for a widow, with 7/- for each of two children, making a total of 38/- per week.

That is the same as in this Bill, every word having been lifted from our Bill, so that on these three special points this Bill is exactly the same as the Bill we introduced. The matter is taken holus bolus from our Bill and put into the Fianna Fáil Bill, but there are some other points which were in our Bill and which are not in this Bill and not in the Fianna Fáil memorandum. In our Bill we proposed to pay a maternity benefit of £5 to a person on childbirth. The allowance is £2 to-day. We proposed to give £5; Fianna Fáil have cut it back to £2, the same as it is to-day and the same as it was ten years ago. We proposed to pay a maternity attendance allowance to a woman, following childbirth, so that she could get some domestic attendance, or other assistance, in her household after the child was born. Fianna Fáil are silent about that in their proposals, and there is no provision in this Bill. We proposed to provide a death benefit varying from £20 in the case of an adult of 18 years of age and over, to £6 in the case of a child under three years of age. There is no mention of that in the Fianna Fáil counter proposals, and this Bill makes no provision for it either.

We proposed to provide a retirement pension at 65 for a man if he elected to retire and an allowance for his wife, irrespective of her age, or if the wife were industrially insured, she would be entitled to a pension at 60 and not 65 years of age. That provision was in our Bill. It was not in the Fianna Fáil counter proposals, and it is completely omitted from the Bill which is now before the House. So that at least there is one thing the Minister for Social Welfare can be congratulated on. It is that he apparently will never reach fame in the production of comprehensive social security schemes, but rather in wielding the axe and in cutting down benefits. He has already established a good reputation upon the manner in which he has mauled the Bill which we offered to the House early last year.

But there are some other interesting examples of the difference between precept and practice. In the counter proposals which were issued by Fianna Fáil on the 3rd March, 1951, we were told that everybody who had not £2 per week would get a full old age pension—the £1 per week which we provided for. Fianna Fáil said: "If you have got £2 that is all right; come along and we will give you another £1 which the inter-Party Government has provided." What does the Bill do? The Bill says that if you have got £2 0s. 3d. you will not got the £1, you will only get 5/-, and if you have £2 0s. 4d. you will get no pension at all. Yet this was the Party which was going to give the full pension of £1 per week to everybody who had not more than £2 per week.

We were told in this scheme that Fianna Fáil would provide an additional children's allowance of 2/6 per week for all children after the third or fourth as may be covered by £500,000 per annum. There is no provision in this Bill for giving them another farthing. There is no provision for spending that £500,000. Fianna Fáil has run away from that part of their promise made in March, 1951, as they have run away from other portions of the promises they made to which I have just adverted. On top of that, they wanted a comprehensive scheme then with no exclusions. This scheme has more exclusions than ever before. We were promised then that there would be no increase in contributions. The Minister for Social Welfare now admits that he is going to raise another £750,000 in additional contributions, although in the Fianna Fáil proposals, published in the White Paper, he says: "No increase in contributions, the increase of £4,500,000 was to be in taxation." In March, 1951, he says: "No increase in contributions"; in March, 1952, he admits in this House that he is going to raise contributions by another £750,000 per year.

As I have said, I do not think anybody will now have any doubt that, whatever good is in this Bill, it has been taken from our Bill. The most valuable and vital benefits, from the point of view of the workers, have been deliberately axed by the Fianna Fáil Party in this Bill. Now, what were these valuable contributions? We proposed to provide a retirement pension at 65 for a man or woman if they wanted to leave their employment. Is there anything wrong, in the case of a man who has served the nation until he is 65 years of age, a man perhaps working in a highly mechanised factory or of a woman working perhaps in a cotton or woollen mill or in a steam-heated laundry: is there anything wrong in giving to these persons the right to retire at 60 or 65 years of age? We give it to judges, we give it to civil servants, we give it to the Gardaí, to Army officers, we give it to the employees of local authorities, and we give it to Ministers. Is there anything wrong in allowing a man at 65 years of age, who has paid contributions for a pension, to make up his mind and say that he is going to retire because he feels the strain too great or that the pace is too hot? Is there anything wrong in allowing a woman to say: "I have worked in a laundry or in a cotton mill for 40 years; I have had enough; I do not feel able for the strain of constant mechanised working for long hours at my age and I want to retire"? Is there anything wrong with permitting that person to get a retirement pension? In the name of heavens, what sort of standards of human value have we?

Have we now come to the stage in which we bracket a woman or a man with the cattle or the machines—that they must go on, that as long as you can get something out of them they are to be milked or used? Is there to be the one standard for the cattle and the machinery and for the unfortunate agricultural worker or the worker in a city or town factory? I see nothing wrong with permitting a worker who pays a contribution for a pension to exercise an option to retire when he is 65 or she is 60. When we pay pensions to persons who make no special contribution, I see no reason why we should refuse to permit them to exercise that option.

The Minister talked about agricultural workers being hardy, healthy fellows at 65. You can see strange things from a car on a main road. If we believe that the agricultural worker is a hardy, healthy fellow at 65 with everybody competing for his labour, I suppose we will be told that he will be an international jumper when he is 95 and enter him for the Olympic Games after he reaches maturity a few years later. It is sheer nonsense. Everybody knows well that it is an impossible proposition for the man who reaches 65 and is out of employment to get another job. There may be nothing wrong with him. He may not be sick and there may be jobs available in which he could be employed. But in this age, with mechanisation what it is whether in the shop or in the factory or to some extent on the farm, nobody wants a man of 65 once there are younger people in the queue.

The position to-day is that we have got 73,000 people registered at the employment exchanges who cannot get employment. Is it not a much better proposition to try to tempt elderly people out of industry by providing them with a retirement pension, if they elect to retire, and let young and vigorous people get into employment instead of sending them, as we are doing in thousands every week, to the emigrant ship to seek elsewhere the work which we decline to provide for them here?

If the Minister knew anything about the building industry he would know that if you lose your job at 65 you cannot get another job. The employers do not want you and the insurance companies do not want to insure you if you are coming on the list the first time at 65. I see nothing basically wrong, nothing morally wrong, nothing economically wrong with permitting workers to retire if they so wish at 65. They are not compelled to retire. But if they, for one reason or another, choose to retire, then, having paid contributions for their pensions, they should be entitled to exercise that right in the same way as a judge, a Minister or any other person in the enjoyment of pension rights.

Then take the death grant. I put into my Bill a provision whereby on the death of a person of 18 years or over a death grant would be payable of £20, the person's contribution being loaded in order to cover that provision. That rate of benefit scaled down from £20 to £6 in the case of a child under three years of age. Anybody who has any contact with working-class families knows only too well how necessary it is to make provision for the possibility that death will stalk through the homestead. Very often what happens is that when a death takes place in a family the family have to go to the moneylender to raise the money to bury the relative who has died, or they have to go to the pawnshop to pawn something that they were only able to purchase after perhaps a long period of service. Why should we not permit a man who works for a week's wages to insure himself for a retirement pension or against the possibility of death in the same way as the wealthy man can do with the big insurance companies?

Why should not the State facilitate the small man to do these things? Why should we prevent him from doing these things under a scheme of this kind? I know, of course, that the insurance companies were strongly opposed to that scheme by which the State would provide retirement pensions for male workers at 65 and for women at 60. They were bitterly opposed to that provision. They were bitterly opposed also to the concept of the State's entering into the business of providing death benefits when a member of a family died. They hated these two provisions in my Bill. It is a melancholy reflection for the workers and a sobering thought for them as well that the Minister has capitulated to the objections launched against my Bill by the insurance companies. The insurance companies have won, and the workers of the country have lost on these two issues. The Minister took the terms of surrender of the workers to the big insurance companies of this country, and even to the cross-Channel ones as well.

The worker does not count.

Only on polling day. Abraham Lincoln's words will come true, and probably this Government will realise it. It is proposed to provide a maternity grant. The present grant of £2 was fixed many years ago.

Go bhfoiridh ort.

You looked for a job in an assurance company and did not get it.

That is a nice level to be operating on in your remark to Deputy Cafferky. You cannot frighten off criticism in that way.

I would expect that sort of dirt from Deputy Norton.

If there is any cap knocking around in regard to this matter, you had better pull it down on your ears, not merely on your head. I cannot help it if the Minister was a director of an insurance company, and I do not care whether he was or not. If he is doubtful about his position, that is a matter for himself. I am not concerned, but I am concerned with this fact, and the Minister knows it, that the insurance companies detested these two provisions in my Bill.

What two provisions?

The provision of a death grant and of retirement pensions by the State.

What the hell have they got to do with grants?

Shakespeare was not too far wrong when he said: "The lady doth protest too much." That is what the Minister is doing. Read the speeches made by the directors of the insurance companies. That is not asking too much of you. Read the speech made at the meeting of the directors of the New Ireland Assurance Company, Limited. You know perfectly well, unless you are living in cuckooland, what the views of the insurance companies are in respect of this Bill.

Cut out the dirt.

You started the dirt.

In this House we are free to express our views as a free people. Are we to be expected to refrain from making any comment on the insurance companies simply because the Minister had some association with one? I will not accept that for two minutes. Whether the Minister likes it or not, I will say what I have set out to say. I will not concern myself in the slightest with the Minister's feelings in the matter. I will say what I wish to say on behalf of the workers, and I will not be intimidated either by the Minister or by the directors of the insurance companies.

I knew you would say it. Say it again.

I will not be intimidated by you or by anybody on that side of the House.

Not in this House.

Will you do the intimidating outside?

Try it on outside and see what will happen.

I proposed in our Bill to provide a maternity grant of £5. The grant proposed under this Bill is £2. It is ridiculous to offer a grant of £2 to a woman to help to tide her over childbirth, especially bearing in mind that she has to pay, in many cases, a guinea to a midwife and has many additional expenses during that period. We proposed to make the grant £5 in our Bill because we recognised that the period of childbirth was one of additional expense for the household. We wished to give the wife a grant of £5 in respect of additional expenses. We had in mind the cost of perambulators and the high price of children's clothes. The only feeling I had was that £5 was inadequate. I was willing to start with £5 and I would not have had the slightest objection to an amendment being put down to increase the figure. I never liked the figure of £5 myself and I would have preferred if it could have been higher. It was even suggested to me in my Department that it should be raised. However, under this Bill the £5 is cut down to £2. Apparently in the year 1952 we cannot afford to give £5 to an insured contributor at childbirth. I provided in my Bill for the payment of a maternity allowance for a period of four weeks after childbirth so that a woman might be able to arrange to get domestic assistance to help her over her temporary difficulties. The sum provided was a small one—£1 per week for four weeks. Nevertheless it would have proved of some assistance, especially in the homes of poor people. That £4 has been guillotined also. The maternity attendance allowance has been killed by the Fianna Fáil Minister in his Social Welfare Bill.

I will say, by way of a summing-up of the situation, that there has been a vicious and an unwarranted attack on the benefits provided under the Bill which we introduced. This Bill is just a miserable shadow of what we proposed.

This country is the most backward one in Europe from the point of view of our social services. That statement cannot be challenged or denied. Every country in Europe, even those behind the Iron Curtain and those east and west of it, have schemes of social security incalculably better than we have.

After three and a half years of your administration.

I was explaining the differences between this Bill and our Bill. If you get a chance when you become Lord Mayor of Cork you might read our Bill. It would do you good.

After three and a half years of your administration, we are the worst-off country in Europe from the point of view of social services.

The Fianna Fáil Government were in office for 16 years, and the people were never hungrier.

Yours was only a Bill. It was never intended to be an Act.

It was never intended to be an Act.

Deputy Cogan voted against our Bill because it was not exclusive enough. Nobody expects anything but inconsistencies from Deputy Cogan.

Every other country in Europe has a better social service scheme to-day than we have. They have better benefits, and these benefits are not things of recent growth; they have been in existence for many many years. These democratically-controlled Governments have built up a social service scheme which might well be the envy of everybody in this country. If the war-ravaged countries in Europe can provide these benefits, can maintain them and can even extend them what cause have we, in the year 1952, for lagging so far behind in this matter? All we have is the miserable scheme enshrined in this Bill. Even the small countries which were overrun by war felt that they should not cut down expenditure on necessary social services. To-day we are in the unenviable position of having a standard of social services which do not do justice to our people and which do not provide benefits on anything like a comparable rate with those provided in other more progressive countries. As far as Fianna Fáil is concerned, the bubble which conveyed that they stood for a comprehensive scheme of social security has been burst. All we can expect now from them is the miserable scheme enshrined in this Bill.

Members are prone to talk in this House from time to time about Partition, about the evils of Partition and about the desire to bring our fellow countrymen in the Six Counties into unity with the rest of the motherland. The most devastating propaganda that can be used against this country from the standpoint of those who want to maintain Partition is this. In the Six Counties those who wish to maintain the evils of Partition can say in all truth that our social services are very substantially below those provided in the Six Counties.

Here is a leaflet issued by pro-Partionists in the Six Counties. They set out here a comparison of social services in "Ulster," as they call it, with those payable in Éire. Under the various heads they show what they pay there and what we pay here or do not pay here. You cannot read that document without being impressed by the fact that we are substantially behind the Six Counties in respect of our social services. Under our Bill many of those discriminations against our people and many of those disparities were being removed, but under this Bill we have now a declaration from Fianna Fáil that it does not propose even to try to aim at giving to our people the same standard of social services as they are getting from the much-despised Six County Government on the other side of the Border.

In our Bill we levelled up our benefits, generally speaking, until they were close to the Six County rates of benefit. There is nothing wrong in doing that. That is what our Bill strove to do. This Bill has killed many of the useful provisions which we inserted in our Bill. We inserted them not only to provide better benefits here but also so as to make sure that the odious and unfavourable comparisons which could be made by Partitionists against us could no longer be made because of the provisions in our Bill. Now, thanks to Fianna Fáil, these disparities and discriminations will continue.

The Six Counties Premier, Sir Basil Brooke, who has been quoting the Minister for Finance recently, will also now be able to add the Minister for Social Welfare. So far as he is concerned, the Minister for Social Welfare, like the Minister for Finance, recognises that this part of the country is too poor in the eyes of the Fianna Fáil Government to provide its people with the same social services as they are getting from the Six Counties Government.

I do not say that these are valid arguments against Partition but they are arguments which tell on a young generation that is rising in the Six Counties and that has never lived in a united Ireland. We are fools if we imagine that propaganda of that kind does not make its own contribution to creating a volume of opinion in the Six Counties in favour of the maintenance of Partition.

I have spoken to many people, members of the Labour Party, who have campaigned in elections in the Six Counties. They will tell you the biggest problem they have in trying to convert the workers to vote for an anti-Partition policy is the propaganda of the Six Counties Unionists that our social services are substantially below the level in operation in the North.

Why did you not raise them?

I do not know whether the Deputy is suffering from amnesia but if he looks up the 1950 Bill while he is awaiting municipal elevation he will find out the benefits we proposed.

Why did you not do it for three and a half years instead of dangling a carrot in front of the people?

I want to ask the Minister and the Government, if the Six Counties Government can provide, as they do, maternity attendance allowances, retirement allowances, death grants, why cannot we do the same for our people here? Are we now accepting the position that we are unable to give our people the standard of social services which the Six Counties give their people? Is that the admission that we are going to get, that it cannot be done or, if it can be done, Fianna Fáil will not do it. Failure to do that is to present a first-class propaganda case to the Partitionists in the Six Counties, and Fianna Fáil is doing that by having cut this Bill down until it is now a substantially less effective Bill than that which we introduced in 1951.

If I were the Minister I would take no pride in being associated with a truncated document of this kind. Every decent benefit, that the people could almost be certain of enjoying, has been taken out of our Bill, and a few risks have been substituted, risks which may never materialise at all for a substantial section of the people. I never claimed that anything made by human hands or fashioned by the human mind was perfect, but whatever defects were in my Bill, even if you multiply them, it was a million times better Bill than this. I would not have stayed in the Government that would state: "That is the limit of the Bill we will pass in respect of social services in the Twenty-Six Counties."

I am quite sure that vested interests will be pleased with the Minister, and that those insurance companies will chant "Alleluia". The wealthy employer will do the same because this Bill allows him to ride away from his responsibilities, as my Bill did not do. The Minister promised in a speech last year that there would be no increase in contributions. A sum of £750,000 is going to be taken under this measure, according to the Minister. That is what is going to be budgeted for under the Bill, but when we see the Budget and construe it with the increased contributions which are payable, we will probably find that in the long run by higher prices and by taxes on the goods which he consumes, the worker will pay much more than we ever asked him to pay under my Bill, and they will get very much less in benefits under this Bill.

So far as this Party is concerned, and in this matter I speak for the Party in its approach to this problem, we want a Social Welfare Bill containing no less than the things that were in the 1951 Bill. If there is ever another Government in this country in which the Labour Party is represented, its representation there will be on the understanding, and only on the understanding, that that Government will put back into our social legislation the benefits which we introduced last year —provision for retirement pensions, death grants, increased maternity grants and maternity attendance allowances. These will go back. These will be provided for the workers under a Government in which the Labour Party has representatives, and the sooner the workers of this country get rid of this Government the sooner they will get these better benefits which the Labour Party will help to provide for them.

The Minister, in introducing his Bill to-day, dragged deliberately, and in a very regrettable way, into the atmosphere of this House and into the discussion something of that spite and that determination to stir up the confusion of his feeling that is characteristic of the Party that he is speaking for in this House. In the long course of the political history that we have experienced the whole atmosphere of spite which has bedevilled us has been brought into both this House and to our people throughout the country by the deliberate policy of the Fianna Fáil Party to confuse thought, to stir up bitterness and to make it impossible to look at the problem that we are looking at from the broad Irish traditional outlook on the affairs and from the point of view of a serious social problem to be tackled by people with Christian instincts and democratic instincts that have brought them through all their difficulties in the past. If we are in the middle of any serious social or financial difficulty to-day it is because time after time we have had a whole succession of crises created in this country by Fianna Fáil spitefulness and that particular type of totalitarian aggression and insolence which is part of their stock in trade.

The Minister for Social Welfare could not introduce this measure to-day without talking of the Fine Gael Party as a dominant Party. Dominant for what purpose? He could not introduce this measure without trying to create a rift between the Labour Party, their measure and the supporters of the Fine Gael Party who unanimously supported the measure that was introduced by Deputy Norton when he was Minister for Social Welfare.

The Minister forgets both our tradition and our experience and he forgets the roots from whence comes any dominance that the Fine Gael Party have had either in Irish politics or in Irish economic or social affairs. The Minister's line of conduct here to-day takes me back to that first day when the Irish Dáil assembled. The whole spiritual energy and the energies of our people are all affected by the condition of the poor, the unemployed and the distressed sections of our people.

As the Minister spoke in reference to what dominates this country, I want to take him back to that morning in January, 1919, when the first Dáil met in the Mansion House. One of the first things the Dáil did was to make a declaration of its Democratic Programme, and I want to read that in order to recall to the Minister the atmosphere. I want to recall to him the continuing problem in Irish affairs that Government after Government and Party after Party must direct their energies to if we are going to make our Irish people what our people struggled in the past to make them. The Democratic Programme was read by Tomás Ó Ceallaigh. It was proposed by myself and seconded by Conchubhar Ó Choileáin. The Democratic Programme, as read to the Assembly on that morning, is as follows:—

"We declare, in the words of the Irish Republican Proclamation, the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be indefeasible, and, in the language of our first President, Pádraig Mac Phiarais, we declare that the nation's sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the nation, but to all its material possessions, the nation's soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the nation, and with him we reaffirm that all right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare.

We declare that we desire our country to be ruled in accordance with the principles of liberty, equality and justice for all, which alone can secure permanence of Government in the willing adhesion of the people.

We affirm the duty of every man and woman to give allegiance and service to the Commonwealth, and declare it is the duty of the nation to assure that every citizen shall have opportunity to spend his or her strength and faculties in the service of the people. In return for willing service, we, in the name of the Republic, declare the right of every citizen to an adequate share of the produce of the nation's labour.

It shall be the first duty of the Government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing or shelter, but that all shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as citizens of a free and Gaelic Ireland.

The Irish Republic fully realises the necessity of abolishing the present odious, degrading and foreign poor law system, substituting therefor a sympathetic native scheme for the care of the nation's aged and infirm, who shall not be regarded as a burden, but rather entitled to the nation's gratitude and consideration. Likewise it shall be the duty of the Republic to take such measures as will safeguard the health of the people and ensure the physical as well as the moral well-being of the nation.

It shall be our duty to promote the development of the nation's resources, to increase the productivity of its soil, to exploit its mineral deposits, peat bogs, and fisheries, its waterways and harbours, in the interests and for the benefit of the Irish people.

It shall be the duty of the Republic to adopt all measures necessary for the recreation and invigoration of our industries, and to ensure their being developed on the most beneficial and progressive co-operative and industrial lines. With the adoption of an extensive Irish consular service, trade with foreign nations shall be revived on terms of mutual advantage and goodwill, and while undertaking the organisation of the nation's trade, import and export, it shall be the duty of the Republic to prevent the shipment from Ireland of food and other necessaries until the wants of the Irish people are fully satisfied and the future provided for.

It shall also devolve upon the national Government to seek cooperation of the Governments of other countries in determining a standard of social and industrial legislation with a view to a general and lasting improvement in the conditions under which the working classes live and labour..."

I am quoting from the record of the Dáil's first meeting on 21st January, 1919. I am recalling to the Minister for Social Welfare the spirit in which our people first declared their approach to their economic and social problems on that first day. As I say, it was my privilege to propose that motion. If we cannot get respect from the back benchers of the Fianna Fáil Party for our declaration on such an historic occasion, then I think they might leave the House for a little bit.

I have been challenged here by the Minister's whole approach both in regard to bringing our minds to bear on the problem and facing matters with a unanimity of mind. We should endeavour to get for the people all that is possible from the resources which Providence gave us.

In part of my statement, when moving the Democratic Programme on 21st January, 1919, I said:—

"Tá ár dtír agus ár muinntir le fada fé dhaorsmacht agus fé cheangal ár námhad. Táimidne indiu ag briseadh na gceangal agus ag cur na smachta ar neamhnidh, ach tá rian na gceangal agus na hannsmachta uirthe. Siad an obair agus an tráchtáil mór-chuislí na tíre. Insna cuislibh sin a théidheann fuil na tíre, an fhuil sin a thugann beatha agus sláinte dá corp agus spionadh dá hanam. Táid siad san i leith na brúidhte agus na briste againn de bhárr na hannsmachta. Níl an rith ceart sa bhfuil agus dá bhárr san tá atanna gránda ann annso agus annsúd ar chorp na tíre, insna catharachaibh, insna bailtibh agus fé'n dtuaith féin. Comhartha dhúinne na hatanna san ar ghalar a raghaidh i méid agus a dhéanfaidh, b'fhéidir, ár dtír do mharbhú mara leighstear é. Má tá uainn ár dtír a mhaireachtaint agus bheith beo i dteannta í d'fhuasgailt caithimíd í shlanú."

For these reasons, we must take the resources of our country and use them and develop them. The Minister has thought fit to refer to the various sections into which this country's political life has been divided and he comments on the inactivity of the Government that was established in 1922 and continued until 1932. I should like the Minister, when he is thinking of social and economic matters, either to forget those times or to remember the activities or inactivities of those with whom he was associated in those times.

I will not forget it.

Then the Minister should not take up the attitude that others should forget.

The people on your side try to forget it.

I can never forget. The longer I live the more I will understand that greater exertions must be made by our people to bring the strength of unity into their work in order to make up for the opportunities which were lost at that time. I am prepared to forget what the Minister did to the agricultural industry when his Government took office in 1932 and when he destroyed the opportunities of the agricultural community.

I say that the Minister does not want this Bill to be examined and looked into in all the detail and with all the careful thought which should be devoted to the problem we are asked to deal with here to-day. I believe that it is for that reason that he comes here this morning and tries to blacken and darken discussion by the insolence and spite he injects into his statements.

The Minister wants to know whether the Fine Gael Party support the Labour Party in their approach to this measure. Again, I am surprised that any man who has had the contact with the political development of this country which the Minister has had would come in here and ask those of us who direct any influence in the councils of the Fine Gael Party such a question. I have stood at the centre of much of the activity that has gathered from the strength and unity of our people to set up this Dáil in January, 1919, and to defend it ever since. I want to tell the Minister and everybody in this country that at no time in the history of this country did leadership and the movements for Irish freedom and the betterment of Irish affairs not come from the ranks of the workers of this country, whether they be workers in the modern organised trade union or whether they were the ordinary workers in our fields and factories and in the general business of our country. The momentum that won our Irish freedom came from the workers of this country and any economic developments that will take place in this country will come from the workers of this country, who will stand over the detailed work that has to be done here.

If there were many moments in my personal political career from which I derived much satisfaction, and was aware that we were travelling along the right lines, surely some of these moments were during the three years when, in the Party, councils were supporting the Government, and in the council chamber of the Government, leaders of labour, of the farmers, of the Clann na Poblachta Party, and of other organised sections of our people sat down together and offered the benefit of their experience in various walks of life and brought their sense of responsibility and their outlook on general affairs to bear on our deliberations.

There is a habit developing in the Fianna Fáil Party in an attempt to dominate both the political and economic life of this country—a habit of sneering at labour both organised and unorganised and of trying to keep it in its place. There is an endeavour to frighten those who want to stand well with the managerial or professional or investing sections of our people from being too closely connected with labour or with workers' organisations in this country. There will never be any true confidence in this country unless that sneering and disruptive influence is banished from our public discussions and unless we banish from the minds of people who want to stand on the fringe and in a privileged position the fear of being too closely connected with the Irish worker, organised or unorganised. I think that it is despicable for men who mouth Christian principles to endeavour to befuddle and darken national thought and to divide the energies of our people by the suggestion that labour, organised or unorganised, is something whose outlook and instincts and interests are a little bit taboo. They were the kernel of the nation's effort when it was achieving its freedom as they are the kernel of the nation's effort in its daily work to-day.

My answer to the Minister, therefore, is that it gave me the greatest satisfaction and the greatest hope in the future of this country to be able to associate with men, in their capacity as Labour Ministers, in the councils of the nation. I want to pay a special and particular tribute to Deputy Norton. It is disgusting that a Minister who has had experience in more than one Department should come in here and make statements, such as the present Minister for Social Welfare made in relation to Deputy Norton's criticisms, of the lack of work done by Deputy Norton in preparing a Social Welfare Bill. The Minister pointed to his bundle of documents and read all the things that he had arranged to have done in his Department. If such a speech was proper this morning, 27th March, 1952, then the same comments should have been made by the Minister when Deputy Norton was introducing the Second Reading of his Bill in this House on the 2nd March, 1951. Where is the reflection in Deputy Dr. Ryan's speech on the 2nd March, 1951, that enabled him to come here to-day and to make the statements he has made with regard to Deputy Norton's work as a Minister? The whole thing is a despicable and a huge fraud.

We are asked here to consider the Bill that the Minister for Social Welfare has put before us. As Deputy Norton has pointed out, it has got in the columns of the Irish Press from certain people a pat on the back from the moral point of view, which patting on the back was reserved and withheld from Deputy Norton's Bill. I would be more convinced and more affected by opinions of that kind if I did not remember the occasion upon which we sat here discussing the Health Bill of 1945. Again feeling some of the dominant spirit that comes from long connection with the Irish struggle to have Irish life run in an Irish way, I was induced by the feeling of tradition in my blood to bring eight representatives of the Fine Gael Party into the Lobby against the Public Health Bill of 1945. Why? Because it took the whole Catholic idea of personality and trampled it underfoot. It arranged that State machinery could interfere with a man's person to perform operations on him. It provided that State machinery could intervene to prevent a child going to places of worship because it had nits in its hair and its neck was dirty.

Is the Deputy not going very wide? I have given him a good deal of latitude, but a Second Reading debate is not necessarily very wide. I think the Deputy is getting away from the terms of the motion or the amendment.

The element has been drawn into discussion here that there is a greater moral basis for the Bill that we are discussing here than there was for the Bill which Deputy Norton brought before the House last year. I am just making the passing comment that I would be more impressed—and I should like to give full consideration to anything said in regard to the question of morality—by the views of the people whose names are being used in connection with this Bill from the moral aspect, if they opened their mouths when we were dealing with the vital moral matters enshrined in the Bill of 1945, when an opportunity was given them of saying what they had to say, because when the Committee Stage of the Bill came before the House we, on these benches, fought that Bill for 15 days in Committee and only ceased our criticism of that Bill when we had gone through something like 600 amendments out of 850. The Government of the time insisted on sitting through Holy Week to discuss it. We never heard anything from these people then. We know that that Bill broke in the Government's hands. We know that the Bill was challenged on moral grounds by a definite and authoritative judgment. Let us deal now with the proposals before us on their merits.

When the war was on, there was frenzy in finance, a frenzy in the organisation of industry and work, so as to use all possible resources of the various countries involved to meet the threat of war. Where did the threat of war come from? How did the seeds of war arise in many countries? Because there was in various countries a position in which those who were weak, those who could not provide for themselves, those who were denied employment by others, those who fell sick, did not get from the Governments of these countries one-tenth of the effort to enable them to overcome their troubles that the same Governments were prepared to give to the prosecution of the war. During the war churchmen and statesmen came together to examine that position and to make sure that when the war was over, there would be a social reconstruction that would mean that these things would never be neglected in future and that there would not be, so far as it lay in their power to prevent them, these difficulties and these weaknesses in the social situation that could be remedied by organisation and hard work, that could be remedied by the same kind of unity in politics in a peace administration, as they were able to devote to policies connected with the war administration.

When we come to deal with our present situation, we should ask ourselves why we are suffering from unemployment, why we are suffering from the lack of proper institutions and a proper administrative machinery to deal with the problems of life in a better way than we do deal with them? Because of things in the past that the Minister for Social Welfare will not forget but would like us to forget, because of the breakage of unity that prevented the unified strength of the country dealing with our moral and economic problems from 1922 to 1932, because of the destruction of our economy here by the trampling under heel of agriculture during the economic war. Why are we faced with our present difficulties? Because the Fianna Fáil Government, having got back to power, is turning its back on the work done during the three years' administration of the inter-Party Government, to employ the credit, the savings and the capital of our people in a useful way and to concentrate effort where effort is required, particularly in the organisation of our agricultural industry.

The Minister attempts to gibe at Deputy Norton that the Bill of 1951 proposed to pay smaller benefits to the agricultural worker than the present Bill. Is the Minister serious? The Minister gave us figures showing that the land of this country is in the hands of people whose ages average 55 years, and that, I think, 20 per cent. of these people were widows whose average age was about 60. At any rate, he indicated that it was the very old section of our people who were the dominating control in agriculture, that there was comparatively little mechanisation of agriculture to-day and comparatively little increase in agricultural production. Why? Does he remember, I wonder, the last stages of the war when we pressed and pressed here to get rural wages, road workers' wages, raised from 39/- per week? They became 42/- and we had to sit here and listen to the Government telling us that they would not allow local authorities to increase the wages of their road workers, much as they wanted to do so. Why? Because the Government did not want the wages of agricultural labourers raised.

What is the position now? If there is any cry in the country which can be more readily understood than any other, it is the cry of our farmers that they cannot get, for their agricultural purposes, the workmen they want. There is a part of the country which is nearly the size of a whole constituency where dairying is the keystone of the agricultural economy, and I am told in a most detached way by men of competency and experience there that no paid labour is milking cows in that area. Why? Because all during the war the Fianna Fáil Administration persisted in keeping wages down. I remember when they first came into Government reading a letter—leaving the names out—which was sent from the revenue offices in Limerick to a lady in Limerick telling her—she was making claims in relation to income-tax—that 26/- for Pat so-and-so, 29/- for John so-and-so, and 31/- for James so-and-so were too much, that women could be got for that work, the work of milking cows, for 6/- and 7/- per week. That was in 1933, and now they are putting agriculture on its feet by failing to discriminate between highly and lowly-paid workers.

Deputy Norton pointed out very definitely that there were no workers in agriculture who would come under his special rate in the Bill, except perhaps old workers whom the farmer was keeping because he was able to do part-time work with them, or able to do seasonal work, or simply because they had been there for years and he wanted to keep them on his payroll. That is just part of the pure hypocrisy of the Minister in his approach to this measure. It did not need Deputy Norton's declaration as to his position if ever he was taking part in a Government again that he would insist on retirement pensions, death benefits and maternity arrangements. The matter which most distinguishes the whole spirit and purpose of this 1951 Bill from the 1950 Bill is the leaving out of the retirement pension. The Minister would seem to make it a principle that where there is a service wanted by a self-employed person, that is the service that should not be brought into a comprehensive scheme. If the Minister is going to stand on that ground, he has no business in coming here and talking about a comprehensive scheme.

One of the outstanding things in Deputy Norton's measure to which a very big section of our people looked forward—and not only the women who would become entitled to it, but the men—was the retirement pension. The Minister for Local Government is forking out of the local service rate collectors who reach the age of 65, whether or not they are entitled to any kind of reasonable pension or not. It is not in support of such a policy that I regard as essential in a Social Welfare Bill a provision for a retirement pension. But there are very many people who, when they reach the age of 60 in the case of women or 65 in the case of men, ought to be able to say that they want to take things easy.

I cannot make out why the Minister brings this suggestion with regard to the age position of our agricultural community into this discussion. The retirement pension and the provision for death grants are outstanding things which put the Social Welfare Bill introduced and supported by the inter-Party Government into a completely different category, from the point of view of philosophy and approach. While the Minister says he is open to conviction, open to auction in the matter of putting into the Bill provision for retirement pension and death grants, I take up the attitude that, unless these are in the Bill, the Bill is entirely different from the Bill that is wanted. We are now in world circumstances in which we have to look clearly at our society, at our resources, at what uses are being made of our resources and how our people, as a whole, benefit from their use, and we have particularly to see what is the problem of our people who are on the fringe of social well-being.

No one could be satisfied in the case of people who will have to depend on the amount of benefit in this Bill, if there were many people who had to live on these sums or if there were any who had to live on them for a long time, that the State was doing its duty. The Fianna Fáil line all along has been, while keeping down wages, both in agriculture and industry, to throw to the people free beef, sops of milk and bread and an odd coal allowance. That has been the policy in the past. Deputy Norton, through his industry and energy and the realism with which he approached the situation, has brought the Minister many leagues forward from the position in which he was when he went into the Social Welfare Department. The whole position in regard to the creation of the Health Department and the Social Welfare Department has been stamped with the spirit of intolerance and totalitarianism. It is several years since the health proposals were put before us, and we know how far they have gone. We know all the difficulties and disappointments for our people generally which have grown out of the spirit in which the seeds were sown and watered.

The position in social welfare has progressed more happily in that Deputy Norton took a grip of that Department and developed its administrative organisation and put the proposals of his 1950 Bill before the House and got acceptance of them in free and honest discussion and argument among the various Parties that were supporting the inter-Party Government and in this House. He got an acceptance, practically, of what was in that Bill by the Fianna Fáil Party at that time except that, just as the Taoiseach called Mr. McGilligan the "so-called Minister for Finance" yesterday, the Government, of course, that was not the Fianna Fáil Government, was only the "so-called Government," I suppose. Except there is the imprimatur of Fianna Fáil on a piece of social legislation, the idea is that it has to be worked against and struggled against and maligned, and the people who introduce it have to be treated in the way in which Deputy Norton was treated this morning by the Minister for Social Welfare.

We are dealing here with a matter that is fundamental. It is much smaller in the general range of things than the Minister would make it appear to-day. It is only a small scrap of the problem in this country that can only be dealt with when the various matters that we were dealing with— the improved development of agriculture and industry and the improved use of our finances—are properly dealt with. The contribution of 24/- a week cannot even be paid and will not be paid if we have a condition of affairs in which the incompetence and the blindness and the futility of the Fianna Fáil Government destroys the hope that the inter-Party Government established here of unity and co-operation in facing our economic matters, destroys the proper use of our finances and the proper building up of our people's confidence in themselves and in their resources. These measures will not be worth the paper they are written on unless there is a proper approach made to the sound development of our finances and the carrying on of our economy.

The Minister comes in here this morning saying that he is not a trumpet blower or he is not patting himself on the back, but he wants to put that Bill before us as the real, vital thing that our people are hungry and thirsty for. This is only a drop of vinegar to a thirsty people who want work, who want peace, who want unity and who want the opportunity, and the approach of Christian philosophy, of taking the resources of this country and building it up so that, while they may look forward to a retiring allowance in the end of their days, they will not have to look for unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit or any of the health grants that are simply there to make up, very often, for not being fully nourished and not being employed at work in which there is enjoyment and which gives confidence and security for the future.

However the Minister may rant and trumpet about it, that is a Bill for dealing with disease. It will not deal with disease. That is something out of the bottle to a people who want the Government to take their resources and to do the work. If that is done, we need not be discussing whether the contribution is too high or too much or what particular type of benefits we are going to have for our people. We can improve the benefits and lower the contributions when the State's work is carried on in the proper way. If the contributions are supposed to be high and if the benefits are supposed to be small, it is because in the ten years that the Minister for Social Welfare particularly desired to refer to this morning, instead of building up, they were destroying; instead of pulling together and building in unity, they were dividing and splitting. They have been doing it since.

There are two sides to that story. Tá dhá thaobh don scéal sin agus ba cheart tagairt dóibh.

There is only one side to the story for the unfortunate people that are living, working and building homes to-day, that is, that there was an opportunity lost, there was destruction done, that leaves them in misery to-day, and leaves some of the people who fought and struggled begging for scraps of pensions to-day because, having fought for a country that they thought they could build up, they find its economy destroyed because its people are not allowed to work.

Tá cuid mhaith aca san uaigh.

They have 24/- a week to keep them alive. They have their hands out looking for more and more small bits of pensions to keep them as a kind of State paupers in a country for which they offered to give their lives. If they offered to give their lives in fighting, they would have given their lives in working if the whole spirit for work and the whole approach to work was not destroyed in years about which I do not know why the Minister for Social Welfare should come in here to talk to-day.

If we are losing an opportunity to-day of pulling the resources of our people together, and getting our people's work done properly, we are just doing what, unfortunately, was done in 1922, 1932 and subsequent years. With the experience that we have had, we know that if we introduce into our discussions of any national ills that we have to-day the destruction of the past, we are setting problems and we are sowing the seeds of misery for the ordinary working people of this country in ten or 20 years' time again.

It is the Minister for Social Welfare.

It is you.

It is the Minister for Social Welfare in his opening bar this morning who not only introduced it——

He never said a word about it.

Well, I am saying he did. If he comes in and conducts the rest of the debate in the spirit I appeal for I will go down there on that carpet on my knees and ask for pardon for introducing the subject or for doing anything in this House in 1952 in relation to the prospects and advantages of our people in 1962 such as was done, however it was done, in 1922, 1932 or on any day since.

There you are again.

I was saying that if the Minister for Social Welfare will come in and demonstrate to us that he did not want to introduce these things or that he is sorry for saying anything that might be misinterpreted, I will kneel down on that carpet and apologise to him and to every member of this House because I know that for any ill-tempered word spoken here, 100 children and their parents are going to suffer some day because of the moment that was lost in futility, in agitation and in recrimination that could have been put to use for the purpose for which our people fought to get this House: that men and women representative of every class in this country should come in here and, having said the prayer to God for guidance and help, bend their energy and thoughts to understanding what is wrong with this country, to understanding the resources our people have in materials, energy and spirit and to seeing whether, by listening calmly and attentively to everything said by the men and women connected with every part of our social life, they could not devise a policy which would bring peace and contentment, so that out of increased production there might then be available for those stricken with ill-health, unemployment or any other disability some generous proportion of that production of the country which God gave us all.

I deplore the manner in which the Minister for Social Welfare introduced the Second Reading of this Bill to-day. I find it very hard to believe that the Dr. Jim Ryan I met on Easter Sunday morning, 1916, when he came down to convey the counter-order to the Volunteers, could be the same man who stood up there and gave what I thought was a most obnoxious sarcastic castigation of a former Minister who, in his efforts to overcome his difficulties while Minister, brought in a Bill that could undoubtedly be called a comprehensive one on the 2nd or 3rd March last year.

Of course, when Fianna Fáil went into Government last June and the Department of Social Welfare went into labour to produce this Bill, they sent in the gynaecologist or obstetrician of the Department. Very carefully, he nursed it while it was in labour, and it was an amazing thing, just a coincidence maybe, that from June to March is nine months. With the assistance of a couple of maternity nurses who linked up in the meantime with the Department a mouse was produced instead of a Bill.

The Deputy should get away from the labour ward and back to this Bill.

I am speaking about the labour ward of the Department of Social Welfare; I am speaking about a ward, not for physical ills, but for mental ills; I am speaking about certain people who could create an abortion in any Department they might be in. I had the experience, while a member of a committee of management of the national health, of trying to rectify some of the tangled skeins made by some of those terrible glorified officials who, in their own minds and in the minds of the Fianna Fáil Department, were a panacea for all ills and all evils.

However, I cannot visualise that it was the present Minister for Social Welfare who produced that document he read this morning. I sincerely hope I am right, because some of us who, in the past, were intimately associated with the movement with which he was associated cannot credit it.

This Bill, instead of being comprehensive, excludes from benefit certain categories of employees who, in my opinion, deserve the greatest recognition and consideration from any Minister introducing such a Bill. I refer to female employees in agriculture and in commercial and professional employment. Those people, apparently, are not worth looking after, as they are completely ostracised by the present Minister in this Bill. I would ask him, perhaps in its future stages, to amend his thoughts and direct his attention to a more charitable line. It should not be charity, it should be more justice than charity, to give those people the benefit of any social improvement we are to have.

I cannot see why certain people should be compelled to contribute towards this fund. I refer to the Army. It is mandatory on anyone under £600 salary to contribute for benefits to which, by virtue of their status in the service, they are entitled. That also refers to the Guards and to a number of civil servants. Of course, however, this democratic Government is at the moment buttressed by the opinions of certain people who failed in every position they held in both local and central government up to the time they got into the position they hold in the Department of Social Welfare, and it is on their advice that this thing was done.

Is it in order for a Deputy to refer to civil servants?

No. As I have pointed out, the Minister is responsible for the Bill and any criticism should be directed towards the Minister. It is unparliamentary to discuss civil servants in this House.

With all respect, I have a very vivid memory of an occasion in the not too distant past when civil servants were discussed on the Adjournment debate here, and what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. I am not referring now to any particular civil servants. Everybody knows to whom I am referring, and if the cap fits him, or her, or them, let him, or her, or them wear it. I make no apology for what I am saying here.

The Minister stated this morning that he was accepting full responsibility, and I say: God give him absolution for that statement, because I believe it is untrue. He was definitely stating what is untrue when he said it was he who prepared the famous Document No. 2. Why should the people I have mentioned be asked to contribute to a fund from which they will never derive any benefit? I think that is very unjust. I did think the contributions in the scheme introduced by Deputy Norton when he was Minister for Social Welfare, a bit high, but I realised we could not have a comprehensive scheme by imposing too much on one particular category and not enough on another. A happy medium had to be arrived at. I take this opportunity of congratulating Deputy Norton when he was Minister for Social Welfare, and his Department, in arriving at that happy medium.

What have we in this Bill introduced by the present Minister? We have people contributing under it who will never benefit by the provisions contained in it. Taking the Minister's own statistics as to the average life, there are many people who will never benefit because they will have passed into Valhalla long before that. During the last election in Cork City famous posters were displayed dealing with the Fianna Fáil social welfare proposals. I am sorry Deputy McGrath and the other Cork Deputies are not present, because I would like them to hear what I have to say.

We can tell them.

I hope it will be the exact information and not embroidered.

A little embroidery will do no harm.

The Deputy has an honest face, but I do not know what is behind the face. I am taking him at his face value. According to those posters, there would be no increase in contributions under the Fianna Fáil comprehensive scheme. They promised that, plus the identity card in Cork, to give Fianna Fáil more seats. I wonder how the Cork representatives here can now go back to the workers there and explain away the promise that there would be no increase in contributions and a reduction in the cost of living.

Deputy McGrath is one of those who believes that if he tells a lie often enough, the bigger it is the better it will be believed. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Government, Deputy Jack Lynch, reminds me of a famous auctioneer here in Dublin—the House-finder: the Parliamentary Secretary acts as the vote-finder for his Party. At the moment he is not quite so attached to Cork as he used to be. Deputy McCarthy is just odd-man out, or should I say odd-man in? How will these representatives convince the people in Cork that they did not tell an untruth last May? There was a full-page advertisement in the Cork Examiner telling the people there would be no increase in contributions. Nine months later they come along here approving of the Minister's Bill under which the contributions are increased.

It was also stated that persons in receipt of £52 5s. per year would receive the full amount of old age pension under the Fianna Fáil scheme. That was given in a bulletin from Upper Mount Street on 3rd March, 1951. What do we find now? As Deputy Norton stated this morning, if an individual is in receipt of £52 5s. 3d. he will only get 5/-. Under our scheme a person could have twice £52—that is, £104—and still be entitled to an old age pension, and we graded the £104 up.

The Deputy is reversing things. It is the other way around.

I am entitled to give my interpretation. There is no doubt an untruth was told and the public were exploited because of the promise that there would be no increase in contributions. I think the Minister should amend the Bill to bring in the small farmer. The £30 valuation should be increased because, in my constituency, where the Griffith valuation operates, it does not require a very big farm at all to have a valuation of £30,. whereas, in other parts of the country, where the land is not so good, the valuation might be half for a much bigger acreage.

I believe it would not mean a big imposition on the Exchequer if the Minister were to increase the valuation from £30 to £40 and then give the farmer the privilege of handing over the farm to his son without any requirement that it could only be done under a marriage settlement. I think the Minister will agree with me when I say that farmers who have worked their farms up to the age of 70 are entitled to some recognition from the State. They are entitled to that by reason of the fact that they have worked the land not only to the advantage of themselves and their families but to that of the State. Men working a farm of 40 or 50 acres with a valuation of say £40 all their lives are surely entitled to the recognition I speak of.

It looked as if the Minister was all out this morning to indict the whole of the inter-Party Government in the sweeping allegations which he made against Deputy Norton. He treated us very lightly, but I believe that at the time he was close to play-acting. I think that at times the Minister is pretty good as an actor.

That statement should not be made.

I am not casting any reflection and I withdraw it. I think it must be admitted, as Deputy Mulcahy pointed out, that during the period of the inter-Party Government those who supported it and had a majority on the county councils did everything which they thought was beneficial for the life of the country. That is to be said to our credit. We carried out religiously every demand that was made on us by the various Departments. I happen to be a member of the Cork Sanatorium Committee. To show that I appreciate what the Minister did when he was previously in office, I want to say this that it was an Act which he was responsible for that enabled us in 1948 to do all that we did. I must say this, however, that after the passing of that Act, and during the period when the Minister was in office, there seemed to be some sinister influences at work in all the Departments which left things static as far as we were concerned. We could feel that, at times, the curb bit was operating to keep us from doing things which we knew were necessary if we were to combat the terrible disease of tuberculosis so prevalent, unfortunately, throughout our county and city.

In 1948 we had only one sanatorium in Cork catering for about 110 persons, male and female. At the moment we have four: Mallow, Millstreet, Skibbereen and Macroom, and we have increased the bed accommodation from 110 or 120 to about 360. I want to pay a tribute to Deputy Dr. Browne for cutting the painter in his Department, cutting away the red tape and in giving us a free hand to do what we knew was necessary to be done. Before his time if we wanted to buy a bed we had to get sanction for it. Now, as I say, we are able to cater for 360 people who are suffering from this dreadful disease. Surely the Minister and his back benchers will give us credit for that. I want to say this: that there are certain elements within and without the Minister's Party which put up the greatest opposition to us when we were carrying out that good work. Propaganda of the vilest nature was used against us but once we had the imprimatur of the then Minister that propaganda was very quickly changed. The people who despised us woke up when they discovered that we were getting things going and were providing increased bed accommodation. In the end they were as much responsible for getting the increased bed accommodation as those who had initiated that worthy scheme.

There was a little scheme in the Fianna Fáil Government's time dealing with old age pensioners. I feel that when we speak here about an increase in old age pensions under the 1948 Act it should be 7/6 instead of 5/-. There was no firm legislation dealing with that. It was just a matter of a stamp in the post office or, if you like, a ministerial or departmental order. The stamp went on and there was an arrangement between the public assistance authorities and the Department whereby if people could show that they were absolutely destitute they got another half-crown.

I think that was a most humiliating regulation to impose on any Irish man or woman. Those people had to go with the pension book in their hands to the home assistance office and say: "That is all I have in the world, and I am looking for another half-crown from charity to maintain a frugal existence." I think the mentality which was responsible for implementing that regulation should be got rid of in the Republic of Ireland. It was reminiscent of the time when poor people had to go hat in hand to certain representatives and certain officials looking for a paltry shilling a week. In fact, I remember a Fianna Fáil back bencher, who is now a Parliamentary Secretary, saying during a debate here on the managerial system last year, that he thought that every home assistance recipient was living within a convenient distance of the local body and could go there to fight his case.

The Deputy is now getting very far away from the Bill.

I am coming to the point now. Old age pensions should be increased under this Bill, so that there would be no necessity for the recipients to look for public assistance. They should have enough to keep them. With a soaring cost of living, old age pensioners are entitled to consideration, just as we gave them consideration in 1948 when, owing to the increase in the cost of living, we thought they were entitled to an increase in pension. When he was on this side of the House, the Minister was more solicitious with regard to the old age pensioners, and he should now do something to alleviate their condition and prevent them from suffering destitution.

The kind of solicitude shown by the Minister for the agricultural workers is very strange. Certain Governments can talk in two voices, one voice when in opposition and the other when they get into office. The Minister tried to make out that Deputy Norton in his Bill would have given the agricultural workers reduced benefits. Deputy Norton was very well able to nail that statement in his reply to the Minister. He dealt very effectively with it. I should like to draw the attention of the Minister and the Fianna Fáil Party to the fact that, when Deputy Dunne introduced a measure providing agricultural workers with amenities that every other type of worker in this country enjoys, the Fianna Fáil Party refused to have any hand, act or part in it. But, when they saw it was going to be a success, they came in for the final push.

The Labour Party have as much consideration for the agricultural workers as the Minister or any member of the Fianna Fáil Party. We proved that by introducing the weekly half-holiday for them. I believe that the happy medium was reached by Deputy Norton when Minister for Social Welfare. Under Deputy Norton's scheme the agricultural worker could retire at 65 if he liked. If he was inclined for more work, as the present Minister said in one of his speeches last year he could carry on until he was 82. There is nobody compelling him to retire. But, supposing that after hard years of work he decided that his day was done, he was entitled to retire and receive full retirement benefit for himself and his wife under Deputy Norton's scheme. Now, he and his wife must carry on until they are 70. According to the Minister's own figures this morning, only an infinitesimal percentage of these people live until they are 70. I am sorry that I did not take a note of his exact figures. They are a category who will be paying a contribution to his scheme for which they will not derive any benefit until they are 70. National health benefit is available to them, but they are not insurable under the Employment Insurance Act.

There was another scheme which we were trying to implement for the benefit of the farmers. Where a co-operative store was operating under a certain understanding and agreement between the co-operative authorities and the farmer, the farmer could pay a weekly sum which would entitle him at the age of 65 to become a beneficiary under our Bill. The Minister for Social Welfare has not even referred to the hardworking farmers with 20, 30, 40 and even 50 acres of land in some places. The Minister at one time was Minister for Agriculture and he knows their position very well. The statistics were available to him over a number of years. Yet not one word was mentioned about these farmers.

There is another point I should like to make so far as the age limit in the Minister's scheme is concerned. A comparison between the agricultural and the industrial worker would be all in favour of the agricultural worker, because I am sure, without having statistics at my disposal, that agricultural workers live longer than industrial workers. The industrial worker has to pay an increased contribution to a scheme from which he will derive no benefit until he is 70. How does the Minister reconcile his statement in this House on the 2nd March last year when in opposition with the present Bill with regard to that? The industrial worker, as I say, has to pay an increased contribution. The gullible people of Cork City who were led up the garden path have to pay more, although not as much as under Deputy Norton's Bill, and they have to wait five years longer before they are entitled to retirement benefit. What is the average life of an industrial worker? I say that it is only the chosen few who reach the age of 65 years.

It looks to me as if the Minister's scheme is a cushion for the Minister for Finance. It is a buttress, if you like, for him, because he will get revenue directly and indirectly which, according to the Minister for Social Welfare himself last year, would have been collected by taxation. I believe that these insured persons will now be the benefactors and the paymasters indirectly of this scheme. Some of us cannot forget within 12 months what was stated here. It was claimed that the scheme would operate on a noncontributory basis. Now we find that increased contributions are to be paid. The increases in Deputy Norton's Bill were justified, because they provided the working man with two, three, four or five years in comparative comfort and ease. As a result of his Bill, the working man would have a pension at the age of 65.

I wonder will the Government tell me why, recently, an Order was made making it mandatory on county councils to retire rate collectors at 65. Everybody knows that a rate collector's job is a very easy one. He has about two months' work in the year. Still, the Fianna Fáil Government, with a solicitude for their energy and health, and perhaps to give them a longer life than rate collecting would allow them, retired them at 65. Take the coal miner in Arigna. He must work until he is 70 years of age. If you compare the two categories of work, of the rate collector who is compulsorily retired at 65 and of the miner in Arigna who must remain at work until he is 70, the injustice will be apparent. I thought that the statements made by the Government last year were absolutely dishonest and that there would be no attempt to implement their proposals in this regard. Now we see that an attempt is being made. I admit that the Minister was adamant about the retiring age, and I will give him credit for that.

With regard to the maternity benefit, I think that on the Committee and Report Stages the Minister should increase that to the extent proposed in Deputy Norton's Bill. There is no doubt that the arrival of a child in the family has an upsetting effect on the ordinary routine of the house. Outside labour must be obtained. Perhaps the breadwinner may have to lose one or two days from work as a result of it. I think the Minister should very conscientiously improve on that on the Committee and Report Stages.

As I said in my opening statement, the Minister for Social Welfare when he was reading that Document No. 2, was not a bit happy or, if he was, there has been an amazing transformation in him from the time I met him a good while ago in Cork one morning. Since an appeal was made with regard to this social welfare scheme that all Parties should co-operate, I am sure every consideration will be given to amendments that will be put in by the Labour Party and by other Parties composing the inter-Party Government.

In conclusion, I have no hesitation in saying that this is not a social welfare scheme. It is only a slight attempt to improve certain classes who would be in receipt of sickness or disablement benefits and no further than that does this Bill go.

First of all, I want to congratulate the Minister on the comprehensive and convincing statements which he made when introducing this Bill. The last speaker has referred to the happy medium, and I feel that when we consider the whole question of social welfare in its broadest aspects we will arrive at the conclusion that the Bill before the House presents the happy medium as between excessive contribution on the workers and their employers and a wide variety of benefits, some of which could easily be dispensed with in this community.

I cannot, however, congratulate Deputy Norton on his approach to the consideration of this Bill. His speech was a speech of an angry, bitter and disappointed man. It was distinguished particularly for a rather savage attack on the Civil Service or on certain civil servants and upon certain Catholic priests who were not over-enthusiastic about his particular Social Welfare Bill. Deputy Norton spent most of his time in this House to-day comparing the Bill before the House with the Bill which he introduced last year, and when the sour atmosphere created by his speech had blown away, as I think it has, and when we got down to the practical matters it will be acknowledged that the essential difference between this Bill and the Bill which Deputy Norton introduced last year is the determination of the present Government that this Bill shall go through and be put into operation. It was never intended by the last Government that their Bill would ever be put into operation.

Deputy Norton referred to those who voted against his Bill last year, but those who voted against his Bill last year did not defeat the Bill. Who was it killed the Norton Bill? It was killed by the brass hats of the Fine Gael Party who had made up their minds from the very outset that that Bill would never be enacted. We know the three years the now frustrated Deputy Norton laboured to bring this Bill forward. I will give him credit by assuming that he was anxious to bring forward a Social Welfare Bill and anxious to have it enacted. However, the Fine Gael Party had other ideas; they were determined the Bill would never see the light of day. For over three years Deputy Norton laboured to produce this Bill. Why should it have taken over three years? For over three years the mountain groaned and laboured and brought forth a mouse but, unfortunately, the mouse was dead. Who was it who killed the Norton Bill? Was it not killed by the dissolution of the 13th Dáil? Who ordered the dissolution of the 13th Dáil? Was it not Deputy Costello, the late Taoiseach, on the advice of the Fine Gael Party and against the protests of the Labour Party? That is what killed Deputy Norton's Bill, and that is why he is so sore to-day. If the last Government had been anxious that Deputy Norton's scheme should be enacted, they would at least have kept the 13th Dáil in being long enough to ensure the passing of his Act. They could have done that.

There was nothing to prevent them from doing it. They got the Second Reading of the Bill through the House, and they would have got the Third Reading and the other stages through in the course of a few weeks. Fine Gael were determined that Deputy Norton would not have the opportunity of going to the country with his Social Welfare Bill enacted. They were determined to drag him to the country more or less in his sins without having anything to show to his supporters. That was exactly what they succeeded in doing. I feel sympathy for Deputy Norton because he had to come into this House to-day feeling so sick, sore and bitter. If one ties oneself to the tail of a kicking jennet, one cannot be surprised if one gets fairly well battered.

The Deputy ought to remember that.

Bear in mind the position of the Labour Party. They tied themselves to the tail—I will not say of an unscrupulous—of a wily bunch of old political varriors, who were determined to fight an election in 1951 not against the Fianna Fáil Party, but against their political allies.

I assume the Deputy has not been told about the next general election.

I am at least sufficiently intelligent to assume that, before the next general election comes, this Bill will be enacted——

A Deputy

Do not be too sure of that.

——and that we will not have the same position which operated in regard to the Labour Party when they were dragged to the country in their underwear, and not even in their best underwear. They were forced to go to the people who supported them without having anything to show in the way of a social welfare scheme, and they were forced into that position through the cunning of the Fine Gael Party. That is why Deputy Norton came into this House to-day and bellowed and roared like a Black Polly bull. No doubt, he deplored the manner in which he and his Party have been fooled by Fine Gael in regard to his Social Welfare Bill. These are the facts, and they cannot be controverted. I am sure nobody will even attempt to controvert them. The essential difference between this Bill and the Bill introduced by Deputy Norton is that this Bill will become law and will operate. In so far as it confers a benefit on the community, these benefits will be operating in a very short time.

Leaving out of consideration that I have said it was never the intention of the previous Government to put the Norton Bill through, and acting on the assumption that the Bill introduced last year by Deputy Norton was never seriously intended to operate and comparing the two Bills in a fair and equal way, let us ask ourselves what is the main difference in their provisions. Is not the most outstanding difference between the Norton Bill and the Bill introduced to-day the fact that under the former Bill no less than 7/- per week would have to be paid by the farmer and his worker. That was the contribution demanded at the time and I considered it was an excessive contribution. The contribution demanded under this Bill is 2/6 per week. That is a fair contribution from workers and employees who are struggling and hard-working people—the backbone of the economic life of this country. There is relief to the extent of 4/6 per week in respect of each worker employed. I feel that that is the fundamental difference between Deputy Norton's Bill and the Bill before the House. The present Bill is more realistic, because it accepts the fact that the ordinary working farmer and the ordinary agricultural labourer are not millionaires. They cannot afford to pay and could not be expected to pay 7/- per week. The agricultural labourer could not be expected to pay, in addition to his weekly rent of 3/-, 4/- or 5/-, 3/6 per week as was demanded under the Norton Bill. Neither could the employer be expected to pay that excessive amount. Under this Bill the worker will only be asked to contribute 1/3 per week, and his employer will be asked to contribute a like amount. To my mind, that is the most startling and the most outstanding difference between the Norton Bill and the Bill before the House. I feel that if we dwell on that point we will realise that the drafting of this measure was approached with common sense and with a sense of realities. Nobody will, I think, seriously contend that the burden which Deputy Norton sought to place upon the agricultural labourer was a moderate one. In my opinion, it was a crushing one, just as the burden which he sought to place upon the ordinary small employer who engages one or two men was an excessive burden. I welcome the concession that is being made to agriculture in ensuring that under this Bill the contribution in respect of the agricultural worker and his employer will be less than that demanded in respect of any other type of worker. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.