Committee on Finance. - Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 1962: Second Stage.

Tairgim go léifear an Bille an Dara Uair. Is é príomh-chuspóir an Bhille údarás reachtach a fháil i gcomhair na méadaithe ón gcéad lá den mhí seo chughainn i níocaíochtaí chúnaimh shóisialaigh a fógraíodh sa Cháinaisnéis, agus i gcomhair moltaí chun feabhsú na scéimeanna Árachais a luadh freisin sa Cháinaisnéis. Tá roinnt feabhasanna eile ann comh maith, go mór-mhór ar an dtaobh cúnaimh shóisialaigh de.

Forálann an Bille go méadófar ar na rátaí uilig pinsean sean-aoise agus daille neamh-ranníocach atá ann do réir 2/6d. i naghaidh na seachtaine; is iad na rátaí nua 32/6d., 27/6d., 22/6d. agus 17/6d. i naghaidh na seachtaine, do réir rang acmhainne an phinsinéara.

Gheobhaidh faighteóirí cúnaimh dífhostaíochta méadú do réir 2/6d. i naghaidh na seachtaine i n-a leith féin, agus méadú breise do réir 2/6d. i naghaidh na seachtaine i leith cleithiúnaí aosaithe. Comh maith leis sin, tá na liúntais linbh cleithiúnaigh dá nárdú comhthrom leis na liúntais i gcás sochair dífhostaíochta. Cialluíonn seo go bhfuil liúntas seachtainiúil do'n chéad leanbh dá nárdú ó 8/- i limistéir uirbeacha agus ó 7/- i limistéir tuaithe go 10/- agus do'n dara leanbh is é an méadú ná ó 7/- i limistéir uirbeacha agus ó 6/- i limistéir tuaithe go 10/-. Tá an liúntas i leith gach linbh de bhreis ar bheirt á árdú ó2/6d. go 5/-. Gheobhaidh fear atá ag fáil cúnaimh dífhostaíochta go bhfuil bean chéile agus ceathrar leanbh aige méadú do réir 15/- i naghaidh na seachtaine má's i limistéar uirbeach dó, agus do réir 17/- má's i limistéar tuaithe dó.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

Má tá seisear leanbh aige gheobhaidh sé méadú 20/- má's i limistéar uirbeach dó agus 22/- má's i limistéar tuaithe dó.

Gheobhaidh baintreach atá ag fáil pinsin neamhranníocaigh méadú 2/6d. i naghaidh na seachtaine, agus tá na liúntais do leanaí dá gcomhthromú leis na rátaí ranníocacha atá ann faoi láthair. Sa chás seo tá na rátaí reatha neamhranníocacha agus ranníocacha an-ghar dá chéile agus is é an méadú amháin ná 1/- i naghaidh na seachtaine i leith an dara leanbh.

Is iad seo na méadaithe a éiríonn de bhárr moltaí na Cáinaisnéise ar an dtaobh cúnaimh shóisialaigh.

I dteannta leis na feabhsanna seo tá socraithe dhá ráta nua pinsin sean-aoise neamhranníocaigh a bhunú do réir 12/6d. agus 7/6d. i naghaidh na seachtaine mar leigheas ar an gcruadtan a bhí ann do dhuine go raibh a acmhainn beagán thar an dteorainn £104 15s. i dtreo's ná fuair sé aon phinsean sean-aoise. Táthar ag súil le timpeall 3,000 pinsean nua faoi'n bhforáil seo.

Is í an teorainn acmhainne bhlian- túla faoi láthair chun cúnamh dífhostaíochta a fháil ná £100, gan baint le líon na clainne. I gcás fir le mnaoi céile agus ceathrar leanbh go raibh an méid uasta acmhainne aige, is é sin, 38/5d. i naghaidh na seachtaine, cháil- eódh sé chun íocaíocht 30/6d. i naghaidh na seachtaine nó 40/6d. dá mbeadh seisear leanbh ann, ach dá mbeadh a acmhainn fiú beagán thar an méid seo ní bhfaigheadh sé íocaí- ocht ar bith. Chun é sin a cheartú táthar chun córas nua teorainneacha a bhunú ag braith ar líon na gcleith- iúnaithe agus athrófar na teorainneacha seo uatha féin do réir na méadaithe ins na rátaí cúnaimh dífhostaíochta. Mar shampla, is í an teorainn nua acmhainne d'fhear go bhfuil bean chéile agus seisear leanbh aige ná £214 10s. i gcomparáid le £100 faoi láthair. Táthar ag súil go gcuirfidh an fhoráil seo timpeall 1,000 cás nua san áireamh go mór-mhór i limistéir tuaithe.

Faoi láthair is é an méid uasta acmhainne do bhaintrigh chun an phinsin is lú d'fháil ná £130 15s. i naghaidh na bliana gan baint leis an uimhir leanbh atá ann. In ionad na teorann uasta seo táthar chun scála teorainneacha malartach a bhunú a bhaineann díreach le líon na leanbh cáilithe sa chlainn. Beidh an pinsean is lú ar fáil anois do bhaintrigh le seisear leanbh nach mó a hacmhainn ná £234 15s. nó do bhaintrigh le dáréag leanbh nach mó ná £312 15s. a hacmhainn. Braithfidh ráta an phinsin ar a hacmhainn; cuir i gcás, baintreach le ceathrar leanbh agus acmhainn aici gan bheith níos mó ná £169 15s., gheobhaidh sí pinsean 21/-i naghaidh na seachtaine. Baintreach le seachtar leanbh agus acmhainn £143 15s. aici, gheobhaidh sí 46/- i naghaidh na seachtaine. Faoi'n teorainn uasta láithreach de £130 15s. ní bhfaighfí pinsean i gceachtar de'n dá chás seo. Táthar ag súil le go mbronnfar timpeall 400 pinsean nua faoi'n bhforáil seo.

Cuireadh faoi mo bhráid go bhfuil faighteoirí cúnaimh dífhostaíochta agus sochair dífhostaíochta ann atá tar éis teacht cúcha féin as breoiteacht ach nach bhfuil in ann chuig a ngnáth- obair agus atá fonnmhar chun malairt oibre a fháil. Do réir an dlí mar atá sé, ní bhéadh siad-san i dteidiol cúnamh nó sochar dífhostaíochta a fháil le linn dóibh bheith ag glacadh cúrsa traenála agus tugtar ar mhórán díobh gan tabhairt faoi shaol iomlán oibre arís. Dá bharr san, táim chun forálacha áirithe de na hAchtanna Um Cúnamh Dífhostaíochta a mhaoladh i leith daoine atá ag glacadh le traenáil faoi eagraíochtaí ceadaithe. Ní áirmheofar liúntais seachtainiúla a gheofar i gcásanna mar sin. Déanfar forálacha de'n tsórt céadna i leith sochair dífhostaíochta trí na Riala- cháin a leasú agus ní bheidh gá le h-achtú.

Táthar freisin chun pá áirithe de chuid daoine atá faoi bhac a fhágaint as an áireamh nuair is toradh oibre i na dteaghlaigh féin é ar bhunabhar a sholáthríonn eagraíochtaí deontacha ceadaithe atá carthanach de chineál agus de chuspóir. Forálann an Bille seo go bhfágfar pá de'n tsort seo suas go £104 as an áireamh chun críocha cúnaimh dífhostaíochta, comh maith le £52 de bhreis ar an £52 a fhágtar as faoi lathair i leith pinsean neamh-ranníocach sean-aoise, daille agus baintrí.

Faoi láthair, muna bhfuil daichead is seacht mbliana agus sé mí slánaithe ag baintrigh neamhranníocach nuair a stopann an liúntas do'n leanbh deireannach cáilithe ó bheith iníoctha, stopann a pinsean pearsanta sé mhí in a dhiaidh sin. Táthar chun an aois cuige sin a laghdú ó 48 go 40. Meastar go mbainfidh timpeall 120 baintreach tairbhe as an leasú seo.

Is é costas bliantúil na méadaithe ar íocaíochtaí cúnaimh shóisialaigh a fógraíodh sa Cháinaisnéis agus a shol- áthruítear sa Bhille seo ná £1,226,000. Sa mhéid seo tá £783,000 i leith pinsean neamhranníocach sean-aoise agus daille, £285,000 i leith cúnaimh dífhostaíochta, agus £158,000 i leith pinsean neamhranníocach baintrí. Beidh an costas sa bhliain airgeadais seo cosúil le £825,000. Cosnóidh na forálacha i gcóir rátaí nua pinsean, agus an síniú is athrú dá réir ar teorainneacha acmhainne maidir le pinsin neamhranníocacha sean-aoise, daille agus baintrí, agus cúnamh dífhostaíochta, i nAilt 1, 4 agus 5, £138,000 breise i naghaidh na bliana, as a mbeidh £81,000 do phinsin sean-aoise agus daille, £35,000 do chúnamh difhosta- íochta, agus £22,000 do phinsin baintreach. Ní bhainfidh aon chaiteachas breise, táthar ag súil, leis na forálacha maidir le daoine míchumasacha ag glacadh le cúrsaí traenála athshlán- aithe. Táthar ag súil go gcosnóidh na forálacha chun pá áirithe de chuid daoine atá faoi bhac a fhágaint as an áireamh, i leith oibre a deintear sa teaghlach i gcomhair eagraíocht carthanach, timpeall £3,000 faoi láthair. Cosnóidh an leasú maidir leis an aois cáilithe chun baintreach áirithe neamh-ranníocach timpeall £10,000 i naghaidh na bliana, meastar. Mar sin, is é costas iomlán na moltaí seo atá taobh amuigh de'n Cháinaisnéis ná £151,000 nó £100,000 sa bhliain airgeadais seo. Is é costas iomlán na bhforálacha cúnaimh shóisialaigh sa Bhille mar sin, £925,000 sa bhliain reatha, nó £1,377,000 i mbliain iomlán.

Soláthruíonn an Bille méadú de 5/- i naghaidh na seachtaine ar na rátaí bunaidh pearsanta de shochar míchumais agus dífhostaíochta, liúntas máith- reachais, phinsean baintrí (ranníocach) liúntas dilleachta (ranníocach) agus pinsean sean-aoise (ranníocach). Solá- thruíonn sé freisin méadú de 5/- ar an liúntas do chleithiúnaí aosaithe, agus tá an ráta seachtainiúil speisialta sochair míchumais agus dífhostaíochta do mhná pósta agus do dhaoine faoi ocht mbliana déag d'aois á nárdú do réir 4/-. Táthar ag méadú ar liúntais do gach leanbh cáilithe do réir 3/-. Tos- nóidh na rátaí nua sa chéad sheachtain d'Eanáir, 1963.

Gheobhaidh fear árachaithe le mnaoi céile agus ceathrar leanaí cleithiún- acha méadú 22/- in aghaidh na seachtaine nuair is breoite nó difhostaithe dó agus méadú 28/- má tá seisear leanaí aige. Gheobhaidh baintreach atá ag fáil pinsin ranníocaigh agus ceathrar leanaí aici méadú 17/- i naghaidh na seachtaine agus méadú 23/- má tá seisear leanaí aici. Fear pósta atá ag fáil pinsin sean-aoise ranníocaigh, gheobhaidh sé méadú 10/- i naghaidh na seachtaine.

Tá rátaí nua ranníoca fostíochta soláthraithe sa Bhille. Is é an méadú is mó ná 1/6d. i naghaidh na seachtaine, nó 9d. an duine don fhostóir agus do'n duine áracaithe. Tá deontas faoi leith i gcás oibrí fireann talúntais nach níocfaidh ach 1/-, sé sin raol don fhostóir agus do'n oibrí faoi sheach.

Is écostas iomlán bliantúil na méadaithe ar shochar árachais, mar a meastar iad, ná £2,823,000 agus as sin soláthrófar dhá thrian trí na ranníoca méadaithe. Is é an costas a bheidh ann do'n Státchiste sa bhliain airgeadais atá anois ann ná £235,000.

Tá leasú beag amháin eile ar an dlí dá dhéanamh ar thaobh an árachais. Tá foráil ann faoi láthair faoina ais- íoctar an chuid de na ranníoca a bhaineann leis an bpinsean sean-aoise (ranníocach) d'íoc duine a ghlacann árachas i ndiaidh dó seasga blian a shlánú, agus tá an fhoráil seo á leathnú i bhfábhar duine nach raibh d'árachas aige sul ar shlánuigh sé seasga blian ach amháin chun críocha pinsean baintreach agus dilleachtaí.

B'fhéidir go mba chabhair é costas na moltaí seo do'n Státchiste d'achoim- riú. Is é costas na bhforálacha cúnaimh shóisialaigh ná £1,377,000 i mbliain iomlán agus £925,000 an bhliain seo. Is é costas na moltaí Árachais Shóisialaigh ná £941,000 i mbliain iomlán agus £235,000 sa bhliain reatha. Is é an costas iomlán do'n Státchiste, mar sin, ná £2,318,000 i mbliain iomlán agus £1,160,000 sa bhliain seo againn. De bhárr na bhforálacha seo go léir, beidh mar thairbhe ag faighteoirí íocaíochtaí leasa shóisialaigh £4,200,000 i mbliain iomlán.

The principal purpose of the Bill is to seek legislative authority for the rate increases as from 1st August next, in non-contributory old age, blind and widows' pensions and in unemployment assistance which were announced by the Minister for Finance in his Budget Financial Statement on 10th April last, and for proposals for the improvement of the contributory schemes to which a reference was also made in the Budget statement. Apart from these Budget matters, however, the Government proposes to make a number of further improvements in the Social Welfare codes, mainly on the Social Assistance side, and the opportunity has been taken to include these new proposals in the Bill.

It will, I think, simplify matters if I deal with the assistance and insurance schemes separately, since the Bill contains proposals affecting each of these broad divisions of the social welfare services and provides for different commencement dates. Under each of these two divisions, I shall first speak about the various proposals arising from the Budget and then go on to deal with what I may term the non-Budget proposals.

Taking the assistance side first then, the Bill, giving effect to the increases announced in the Budget, provides for raising all the existing rates of non-contributory old age and blind pensions by two shillings and sixpence per week; the new rates of these pensions will thus be 32/6d., 27/6d., 22/6d., and 17/6d. a week, according to the means category of the pensioner, as set out in Section 2, on which I shall have something further to say shortly.

Under the Budget increases in rates of unemployment assistance, all recipients will get an increase of 2/6d. a week also in respect of themselves, and they will, in addition, get the same extra amount for an adult dependant. Furthermore, if the recipient has dependent children, the Bill provides for the increases necessary to implement the Budget promise that, as a special measure, the child dependant allowances under the assistance schemes would be raised to the level of those payable in respect of child dependants under the contributory schemes. In relation to Unemployment Assistance, this means that the weekly allowance for the first child is being increased from 8/- in urban areas and from 7/- in rural areas to 10/- in all areas, that the allowance for the second child is being increased from 7/- in urban areas and 6/- in rural areas to 10/- in all areas, and that the allowance for the third and subsequent children is being increased from 2/6d. to 5/- in all areas. Accordingly, a man who is on Unemployment Assistance and who has a wife and four dependent children will get an extra 15/- a week as from next month if he lives in an urban area, while a man with a similar family in a rural area will get an increase of 17/-. A man with a wife and six children will receive a total increase of 20/- a week if he lives in an urban area or 22/- if he lives in a rural area. The table of new rates is set out in Section 3 of the Bill.

As regards widows' non-contributory pensions, the personal rate is being increased by 2/6d. and the weekly allowance for the second qualified child is being raised by 1/- to 10/-, in accordance with the Budget proposals. The allowances in respect of other qualified children of non-contributory widows are already equal to the contributory rate. A non-contributory widow pensioner with two or more qualified children, therefore, will receive a weekly increase of 3/6d. in her pension. These provisions are included in Section 4, on which I shall also have more to say later.

Apart from the increases in present rates which I have outlined, the Bill, as I have already indicated, proposes to make other substantial concessions on the assistance side. Sections 2, 4 and 5, for example, provide for the extension and alteration in favour of recipients of the means limits for old age, blind and widows' non-contributory pensions and for unemployment assistance to complement the successive increases made in the rates of payment in recent years, including the grant, in 1960, of an allowance for each dependent child of widow pensioners and of recipients of unemployment assistance instead of for the first two such children only.

In the case of non-contributory old age and blind pensions, two additional rates of pension, that is to say, 12/6d. and 7/6d., are being introduced. These entail a corresponding extension of the means scale from the existing upper limit of £104 15s. a year — at which the present minimum pension of 15/- is payable — to a new limit of £130 15s. a year. At present, a person with means just under £104 15s. gets a pension of 15/- per week, which is being raised to 17/6d. in this Bill, while a person with means just over £104 15s. gets nothing. Obviously this can lead to cases of hardship and this Bill provides that in future a person with means between £104 15s. and £117 15s. will get a pension of 12/6d. per week while a person with means between £117 15s. and £130 15s. will get a pension of 7/6d. per week. The number of new pensions at 12/6d. and 7/6d. a week which will arise under this provision is expected to be about 3,000. This important improvement is embodied in Section 2, which also provides for the Budget increase of 2/6d. in existing pension rates.

As regards unemployment assistance, the present yearly means limit is a fixed sum of £100, that is, 38/5d. a week, irrespective of the size of the family of the applicant. Owing to the successive increases made in the rates of unemployment assistance in recent years, and the extension since 1960 of the allowance for a dependent child to all dependent children of the recipient instead of the first two only, the fixed means limit gives rise to inequality in the treatment under the scheme of certain family men with means — particularly in the rural areas. For example, in a rural area, a man with a wife and two child dependants who has the maximum means of 38/5d. a week from a small farm is just inside the scheme, and would qualify from next month for 20/6d. a week unemployment assistance on the basis of the increased rates provided for in Section 3 of this Bill. The amount payable would become 30/6d. if there were four children and 40/6d. if there were six children, and would rise further by 5/- for each other child after the sixth. If, however, the means in any of these sample cases were even slightly over the limit of 38/5d. a week the person would be outside the scope of the scheme altogether as it now stands and would not be entitled to any payment so that in certain circumstances a very slight increase in means could result in a considerable drop in income by the complete loss of unemployment assistance.

I am satisfied, and the Government have agreed with me, that this kind of anomaly should now be rectified. To rectify it, the introduction of a new self-adjusting means limit, which would make special allowance for each child dependant of an applicant and would automatically move upward in line with increases granted from time to time in the rates of unemployment assistance, is provided for in Section 5. On the basis of the increased rates provided for in Section 3, the effect of Section 5 would be to qualify a number of persons with families, who are at present outside the scope of unemployment assistance by reason of their means, for weekly rates of assistance ranging downward from 40/6d. for a six-child family in a rural area, and downward from 48/6d. for a similar family in an urban area, with an extra 5/- a week in each case for each child after the sixth. The new yearly means limit for a six-child family in both urban and rural areas would be £214 10s. 0d. — as against £100 at present — and the rate of assistance payable would depend on the means of the applicant within that new limit; if the means were, say, 60/- a week, the rate of payment would be 19/6d. in a rural area and 27/6d. in an urban area, as against nil in both areas at present. The number of new beneficiaries under the proposal would, it is thought, be in the region of 1,000, the great majority of whom would be rural residents.

An extension of the means limit is also proposed in regard to widows' non-contributory pensions. The increases announced in the Budget and provided for in this Bill will allow widows with yearly means at the present permissible limit of £130 15s. to qualify for minimum pensions, from 12/- in the case of a widow with two children by additions of 5/- per child up to, say, 62/- in the case of a widow with twelve children. A widow with means just above the present limit of £130 15s., no matter how many children she may have, does not now qualify for any pension. To remedy this situation, Section 4, as well as providing for the Budget increases, proposes to modify further the existing table of means and pension rates to provide a table in which the present overriding means limit of £130 15s. would be replaced by a scale of variable means limits related directly to the number of qualified children in the family. The proposed new scale proceeds in £13 steps from £130 15s. upwards. Under it, a new minimum pension of 6/- per week will be payable to a widow with no children, whose yearly means do not exceed £130 15s.; to a widow with six children whose yearly means do not exceed £234 15s.; and to a widow with twelve children whose yearly means do not exceed £312 15s. The rate of the new pension will, of course, be higher than 6/- where the means of the widow are less than the new means limit appropriate to the size of her family. For example, a widow with four dependent children and means not in excess of, say, £169 15s. a year, that is 65/6d. a week, will get a pension of at least 21/- a week as against nothing at present. If she has seven dependent children, she could have means of £143 15s. a year, that is 55/3d. a week, and still get a pension of 46/- a week — as against nothing now — thus giving her a total weekly income of just over £5 a week. The number of widows who would become entitled to non-contributory pensions under these important concessions would, it is estimated, be about 400.

I now come to a group of four amendments affecting the assistance services which I am sure will meet with the approval of Deputies of all shades of opinion in the House. Two of these, in Section 6 and part of Section 7, are intended to facilitate and encourage the rehabilitation of certain handicapped persons for employment. It has been represented to me that there are recipients of unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit, who, having, for example, recovered from an illness such as tuberculosis, are not fit to resume their normal occupation and are anxious to find an alternative. These persons can be rehabilitated and trained for some other occupation suitable to their diminished capacity but the law as it stands would operate to prevent them from continuing to receive unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit during a training course. They are therefore deterred from the effort we would all be glad to see them make to get back to a full working life and a more comfortable livelihood than can be provided by unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit interspersed, perhaps, with spells of casual employment. I accordingly propose to remove this deterrent, in so far as unemployment assistance is concerned, by relaxing certain provisions of the Unemployment Assistance Acts in favour of such persons while they are undergoing training with any organisation approved of by the Minister for Health for the purposes of the provision of such training.

Section 6 of the Bill will enable persons receiving approved rehabilitation training to be regarded as unemployed, available for and genuinely seeking work. These, of course, are prior conditions for anybody seeking payment of unemployment assistance, apart from their means position. I am satisfied that a very strong case exists for relaxing the qualification tests for unemployment assistance in this manner, and it is my intention to make a similar concession in relation to unemployment benefit; the latter can, however, be achieved by the amendment of existing regulations and legislation will not be required. An amendment associated with Section 6 is included in Section 7. Where trainees receive weekly allowances from the training organisation, such allowances would, unless we specifically provide otherwise, be reckonable as means so that the amount of unemployment assistance payable during training could be reduced considerably, or even cease altogether, in such cases with the result that the concession provided in the previous section would be rendered largely ineffective. It is proposed, therefore, that any such training allowances should be excluded altogether in the calculation of means for unemployment assistance purposes and Section 7 includes provision accordingly.

The effect of these two amendments, taken together, will thus be that persons undergoing approved training courses will be treated as unemployed and available for work and entitled to receive unemployment assistance as if they had not undertaken the courses, the amount of any training allowance which they may receive being disregarded as means. Apart altogether from the primary humanitarian motive for these concessions, the House will readily see that unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit paid in such circumstances, as well as, in many cases, being expediture of an immediately productive kind during training, can be an investment likely to result eventually in greater gain to the community, since it will afford to the persons in question the chance of being able to take up regular employment again after training instead of having to depend on unemployment assistance for, possibly, all the balance of their potential working lives.

Two other amendments of the law are proposed in the Bill with the object of aiding efforts by voluntary bodies to assist certain handicapped persons to restore their morale through useful work. These amendments provide for disregarding, within limits, certain earnings of such persons in assessing means for unemployment assistance and for non-contributory old age and widow's pension purposes. The earnings in question are those arising from work done in their own homes by persons affected in one way or another by physical or mental handicap on materials provided by organisations operating schemes which are charitable in character and purpose.

Representations have been made to me on behalf of one such organisation — a Co-operative Guild founded a few years ago in Dublin by a religious Order — that the application of the means test is discouraging or preventing the kind of person they are interested in from participating in such work because the people are afraid of losing their social assistance payments. The work is in itself useful and rewarding — consisting as it does of the making of toys, leather work, sewing, knitting and fancy goods — and those concerned with the scheme have good reason to believe that it has a profound and beneficial psychological effect on the morale of the persons participating. I am satisfied, and I am confident of the support of Deputies of all Parties in this, that a relaxation of the means tests is justified in the case of persons participating in schemes of this kind and that it is desirable that the praiseworthy social service being undertaken by voluntary charitable organisations providing such work should be facilitated.

Accordingly, Section 7 also proposes the disregard of earnings of this kind of up to £104 a year for unemployment assistance purposes. Because non-contributory old age and widow pensioners can already have means of approximately £1 a week, apart from any other special disregards applicable, without affecting title to full pension, Section 14, which deals with non-contributory old age and widows' pensions, limits the additional disregard now proposed under those schemes to £52 a year, as against £104 for unemployment assistance. My information in relation to the Guild I mentioned is that the average earnings of the participants are appreciably less than £2 a week. The people affected by the proposed amendments will, therefore, in many cases, have their full earnings from such a source disregarded. I may add that it is intended to put persons in receipt of social insurance benefits on the same footing in relation to work of this kind; this can be done by amendment of existing Regulations. In order to control the application of these concessions it is proposed to limit them to persons participating in schemes which, in the opinion of the Minister for Social Welfare, are charitable in character and purpose and it is, perhaps, well that I should say now that the concessions will be granted only where I am satisfied as to the deserving character and trustworthiness of the voluntary organisation concerned.

The remaining amendment relating to the assistance services is contained in Section 8, which provides for altering the statutory provision relating to the cessation of the pension of the non-contributory widow where she is under 48 years of age when the last child for whom an allowance in addition to pension is payable ceases to be a qualified child. At present, if a non-contributory widow has not attained the age of forty-seven years and six months when the allowance in respect of her last qualified child ceases to be payable for any reason, her personal pension ceases six months afterwards. It is proposed that the age requirement for the purpose of this provision should be reduced from 48 to 40 years.

The age requirement of 48 years was fixed by the Social Welfare Act, 1948, and my Department's experience of the operation of this provision since then has shown that hardship was inflicted on the widow who was over 40 years of age but who had not attained 48 years of age when her last qualified child reached 16 years. I have no doubt that I shall find general agreement that a widow who, up to the age of forty, has to look after young children, should not, thereafter, be deprived of pension. At that age, her chances of re-entering any sort of remunerative employment in a highly competitive labour market are not good. If she is able to obtain employment which will leave her in no need of assistance from the State the means scale will come into play to disqualify her or to reduce her pension as may be appropriate to the case. Section 8 provides, therefore, that where a non-contributory widow, who has been receiving allowances for children, has reached the age of thirty-nine years and six months when her last child ceases to be eligible, her pension will continue, provided she remains otherwise qualified. It is estimated that about 120 widows will benefit from this amendment.

That is very small, is it not?

Before I go on to deal with the provisions of the Bill affecting the insurance schemes, it might be as well for me to dispose finally of the assistance side by taking a brief look at the financial aspects of the proposals which I have outlined. The yearly cost of the increases in social assistance payments announced by the Minister for Finance in the Budget and provided for in Sections 2, 3 and 4 is estimated at £1,226,000. This sum is made up of £783,000 in respect of non-contributory old age and blind pensions, £285,000 in respect of unemployment assistance and £158,000 in respect of non-contributory widows' pensions. In the current financial year, the cost will be in the region of £825,000, since the increases take effect from the beginning of next month.

The provisions for the extension and revision of the means limits in relation to non-contributory old age, blind and widows' pensions, and unemployment assistance, also contained in Sections 2 and 4, and in Section 5, will cost an additional £138,000 yearly, of which about £81,000 is for old age and blind pensions, £35,000 for unemployment assistance and £22,000 for widows' pensions.

The provisions in Sections 6 and 7 relating to disabled persons undergoing courses of rehabilitation training will not, it is expected, involve any additional expenditure for the reason that those people would, in any event, probably continue to draw unemployment assistance (or benefit) if they did not undergo those training courses. The provisions in Sections 7 and 14 for disregarding certain earnings of handicapped persons from work done at home under the aegis of approved charitable organisations will probably cost not more than £3,000 a year in all at present in view of the small numbers estimated to be affected at the present time. The remaining amendment relating to the assistance side, that contained in Section 8 and affecting the qualifying age provisions for certain non-contributory widows, will, it is estimated, cost about £10,000 yearly. The total estimated annual cost of the additional, or "non-Budget", concessions thus amounts to the appreciable sum of £151,000; as these improvements are also to come into effect as from 1st August, their cost in the current financial year would be around £100,000, or 12½ per cent. over and above the Budget provision of £825,000. The aggregate cost of all the Social Assistance provisions in the Bill is thus £925,000 in the current year, or £1,377,000 in a full year.

I turn now to the provisions of the Bill relating to the social insurance scheme. In the course of his Budget statement, the Minister for Finance also announced that the Government had under consideration the improvement of the contributory insurance schemes and that the intention was that the new rates of contribution and benefit would commence in January, 1963. Deputies will, no doubt, be aware that the contributory benefits are paid out of the Social Insurance Fund to which the State, employers and insured persons contribute in roughly equal shares. A provisional allowance of £200,000 was made in the Budget as the State contribution towards the extra cost of the increased benefits in the last quarter of the current financial year. The improvements which it is proposed to make in the social insurance scheme are contained in Sections 9 and 11 to 13 of the Bill.

Section 13 provides for an increase of 5/- weekly in the basic personal rates of disability and unemployment benefit, maternity allowance, widow's (contributory) pension, orphan's (contributory) allowance and old age (contributory) pension. It also provides that the allowance for an adult dependant, where payable with any of those benefits, shall be increased by 5/-, and that the special weekly rate of disability and unemployment benefit for married women and persons under 18 years shall be increased by 4/-. Allowances for each qualified child, where payable with any of those benefits, go up by 3/-. The rate of benefit payable to a surviving adult dependant of a deceased old age (contributory) pensioner is also being increased, by 5/-, under Section 11, to keep it in line with the rate of adult dependant's allowance. The increased rates of disability and unemployment benefit and maternity allowance and of any associated dependants' allowances will come into effect on the first Monday in 1963, that is 7th January, 1963, from which date the new rates of contribution will also operate. The new rates of widow's (contributory) pension, orphan's (contributory) allowance, old age (contributory) pension and survivor's benefit, and any allowances payable with them, will come into effect on the first Friday in 1963, that is to say, 4th January, 1963, the first normal payday in the New Year.

These increases in benefits are quite substantial and generally they are about double those provided for non-contributory beneficiaries. Their effect can best be shown by some examples. An insured man with a wife and four dependent children will receive £5 4s. 6d. a week when ill or unemployed as compared with £4 2s. 6d. at present, an increase of 22/- or almost 27 per cent; if he has six children, he will receive £6 Os. 6d. as against £4 12s. 6d. now, an increase of 28/-, or 30 per cent. A widow in receipt of widow's (contributory) pension who has four dependent children will receive £4 2s. a week as compared with £3 5s. at present, an increase of 17/-, or 26 per cent.; if she has six children, her rate of pension will go up from £3 15s. a week to £4 18s., an increase of 23/-, or nearly 31 per cent. A married man receiving full old age (contributory) pension which includes an allowance for his wife will receive £4 a week as against £3 10s. at present, an increase of 10/-, or over 14 per cent. A guardian of four orphans will receive an increase of 20/-, bringing his total orphan's allowance to £5 a week, an improvement of 25 per cent.

I need hardly say that these increased rates of benefit will increase expenditure from the Social Insurance Fund heavily and an increase in rates of contribution by employers and insured persons is, therefore, unavoidable. New rates of employment contributions are provided for in Section 12. An increase of 1/6d. per week, or 9d. each for employer and insured person, is the most that will be required. This increase applies only to those contributions which count for all benefits. Contributions which give title to limited benefits are being increased by an amount related to the cost of the increases in those benefits only. A special concession is being made, however, in the case of male agricultural workers who, although covered for all benefits, will only be charged 1/- extra of which 6d. will be payable by the employer.

The effect of these contribution increases will be seen from a few examples. The ordinary male worker at present paying 4/6d. per week will pay 5/3d. while his employer will pay a similar amount. An ordinary female worker will pay 4/2d. instead of 3/5d. a week and her employer will pay 4/11d. instead of 4/2d., that is, an extra 9d. each. The male agricultural worker will pay 3/-, as will his employer, as against 2/6d. each at present. In the case of outworkers, sharefishermen and female agricultural workers whose contributions do not cover unemployment benefit, the total increase will be 1/2d., from 4/3d. to 5/5d., of which the worker will pay 2/4d., that is, an extra 7d. A female domestic, whose contribution likewise does not cover unemployment benefit, will also pay an additional 7d. a week, as will her employer, bringing the total contribution rate from 5/9d. to 6/11d., of which the worker will pay 3/1d.

The contributions paid by men in employment compulsorily insurable for widows' and orphans' pensions purposes only, for example, civil servants, teachers, officers of local authorities, etc., will be increased by 4d. from 2/6d. to 2/10d. a week, while the contributions in respect of women so employed will continue to be half the men's rate, that is, the new rate will be 1/5d. instead of 1/3d. In Section 9, the rates of voluntary contributions are being increased by 4d. in the case of the contribution which reckons for widows' and orphans' pensions purposes only, and by 8d. in the case of the contribution which covers old age (contributory) pension as well. The new rates of contribution will come into effect on 7th January, 1963, the commencement of the next contribution year for men.

These increases in contributions by employers and workers will yield an estimated £1,882,000, which is exactly two-thirds of the estimated annual cost of the increases in insurance benefits — £2,823,000. This leaves the remaining one-third — £941,000 — to be borne by the State in a full year, or about £235,000 in the current year. The financing of the new benefits therefore follows the arrangement that the State, employers and insured persons contribute in approximately equal shares towards the cost of the scheme. The overall annual expenditure from the Social Insurance Fund following the increases will be in the region of £20,542,000, of which £13,360,000 will be met by contributions from employers and insured persons together with income from investments and other miscellaneous sources, so that the total Exchequer contribution to the Fund will be about £7,182,000 a year or 34.96 per cent. of the total income of the Fund.

Before this Bill was prepared, I invited the views of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Federated Union of Employers on the proposals to increase insurance benefits and contributions. The observations made by these organisations were duly considered before the proposed increases were finally determined. In this connection, I would like to stress that the increased rates of benefit proposed are the most favourable that can be provided on the basis of the proposed increases in contribution rates and within the existing framework of the social insurance scheme which, as I have already pointed out, depends for its finance on roughly equal contributions by the State, employers and insured persons. As I have shown, the State is doing its share and I would recall to the House the figure of £235,000 which I mentioned a few moments ago as the cost to the Exchequer in the current year of the insurance proposals in the Bill. This sum is approximately one-sixth more than the allocation of £200,000 provisionally made in the Budget for this purpose.

The opportunity presented by the Bill is also being taken to make a minor amendment of the law on the insurance side. The change is of a concessionary nature and is contained in Section 10. This section extends the existing statutory provision for a refund of the old age (contributory) pension portion of insurance contributions, paid by a person who enters insurance after the age of 60, to cover a person whose only insurance before the age of 60 was for widows' and orphans' pensions purposes. The existing refund of contributions is made because it is a condition for old age (contributory) pension that a person must have entered insurance before the age of 60 and a person who enters insurance after that age is debarred from deriving any benefit from the old age pension portion of his contributions although statutorily required to pay them. Insurance contributions paid for widows' and orphans' pensions purposes only do not count for old age (contributory) pension and a person who has only been insured for widows' and orphans' pensions before age 60 and becomes insured for old age (contributory) pension for the first time after that age, will not normally have a sufficient insurance record to qualify for pension. He is, therefore, in much the same position as a person who had no insurance at all before the age of 60 and I am satisfied that a refund of the old age (contributory) pension contributions paid by him is equally justified. The number of cases involving this refund would be very small and the cost would therefore be negligible.

Before I conclude, it may be helpful to summarise the cost to the Exchequer of the various proposals which I have outlined. In relation to Social Assistance the total costs are £1,377,000 in a full year and £925,000 in the current financial year. The cost of the social insurance proposals is £941,000 in a full year and £235,000 in the current year. The overall cost to the Exchequer will therefore be £2,318,000 — nearly two and one-third million pounds — in a full year and £1,160,000 in the present year.

I have much pleasure in recommending this measure to the House, and I would ask for expeditious and favourable consideration for it in order that the proposed commencement of its social assistance provisions on the first day of next month can be achieved.

The House has awaited the introduction of this Bill for so long that there is no doubt that Deputies will at least welcome its introduction even at this late hour. In concluding his statement, the Minister asked for expeditious and favourable consideration for the Bill in order that the provisions may operate on the first day of next month. The House will co-operate with the Minister in the circumstances, but I feel it incumbent on me to draw the attention of the House to the fact that a great deal of time has elapsed since the Minister for Finance announced on 10th April last that it was the intention of the Government to grant these increases. The House will recall that, in the interim, other legislation has been passed giving increases in incomes to particular classes. For instance, in relation to the judges, moneys voted here were made payable retrospective to 1st November last. Old age pensioners, and others, have been forced to wait since 10th April for the provisions of this Bill. Many old people who read in the papers last week about this increase had forgotten that it had been promised so long ago. It had escaped their memories and they wondered if this was an additional increase. It had to be brought to their notice that it was only now the Government were implementing the assurance given to this House on 10th April last.

We welcome these provisions designed to alleviate the difficulties under which these classes are existing at the moment. All Deputies are at one in desiring that the State should come to the assistance of those classes who we believe should have the first demand on the State's resources. One can only comment on the meagreness of the increase, remembering the speeches delivered in certain social circles by prominent members of the Government. From these statements, one would imagine that the Government could do better for these classes, if the assessment of the country's finances adumbrated in these statements and the assessment of our economic situation were correct.

I welcome Section 2 which provides for an easement in the means test. I welcome the raising of the ceiling from £104 to £130. The former figure has operated since 1952. The increase being given now represents 25 per cent. Since 1952, the cost of living has increased from 115 points to 158 points, representing an increase in the order of 40 per cent. The Government now proposes to give an increase of 25 per cent. to offset the cost-of-living increase of 40 per cent. If one takes into account the depreciation in the value of money, the increase is even less favourable. Bearing these two factors in mind, the increase is the least that should be provided now.

Furthermore, it has been my experience, as I am sure it is the experience of other Deputies, that in the past few years there appears to have been a more rigid application of the means test. If that is true, it is to be hoped that those who were denied any assistance during that period, because of the rigidity of the means test, will now obtain the benefits they were denied during that period.

There are some parts of this Bill which it is rather difficult to understand. Since the Minister is anxious for expeditious consideration of the measure, it is to be assumed the House will not have very much time for closer consideration of the measure on Committee Stage. Section 10 amends Section 9 of the Act of 1952. Section 9 of the Act of 1952 deals with the return of sums paid in error by way of contribution, whereas the amending Section 10 deals with the qualification of a person over 60 who first becomes insurable after that age. Section 9 of the 1952 Act reads as follows:

Regulations shall provide for the return, subject to any conditions, restrictions and deductions specified in the regulations, of any sums paid in error by way of contribution.

The only other point is that in Section 12 the phrase "the Principal Act" is used. I think that should be amended to read "the Act of 1952".

I will be circulating an amendment to that effect.

Very well. This Bill designed to alleviate conditions for certain classes will be welcomed by everybody. It is a matter for regret that other classes have been given precedence over these unfortunate people who have had to wait so long for the benefits announced by the Minister tonight.

The House will be generally gratified, I think, that some improvements are being made in our social welfare legislation, not only for the socially insured classes but also for those classes which have unfortunately to rely on our social assistance schemes. While I do not blame the Minister for trying to hitch his introductory speech, in his self-congratulatory way, as high as possible, I think at the same time that we must look at the situation realistically and not be carried away with pre-war notions of how much the £ buys. When thinking of the £'s which will be payable to these people, one has to remember that the £ today is worth about 7/- in terms of 1939 purchasing power. When one talks about giving a person £4 a week, one can reckon that as 28/- in terms of 1939 purchasing power. In fact, relatively speaking, what we are doing now is giving them, where we give them £4 under our present legislation, a 1938 or 1939 purchasing power of four times the present value of the £ or 28/-.

It is against that background one must consider what the Minister proposes doing here. As the Minister and his Department know only too well — we can prove it, if necessary, by Parliamentary Questions next week — the situation is not exactly as depicted by the Minister. In the Tables the Minister talks about what a person will get if she is a widow with six children, or what a man, with six children, drawing unemployment assistance will get. That does not mean that every person with six children will get this rate of benefit. They must be six qualified children, that is, they have to go through the test or qualification. You may find a family where the widow has six children but not all of the six will qualify under this Bill.

Similarly in regard to unemployment assistance, not all of the children will qualify for benefit under this Bill. My recollection is that the number of families with six children who are likely to be claimants under Social Welfare legislation, taking the number of persons to whom unemployment assistance is paid or to whom widows' and orphans' pensions are paid, is relatively negligible.

The Minister, while reading out the figures of the new rates, admitted that that is the case. He told us of the proposal to increase the income limit of widows, that is, to allow them to earn a certain amount of money before they were disqualified from receiving a widow's pension. After painting the picture in quite good colours, the Minister said the total number of widows affected is 400 in the whole country, not a very large number if it is spread over 26 counties. However, it reads very well, I agree, and I do not blame the Minister for taking any credit he can for that. Nevertheless we must keep a sense of proportion and remember that the number of people who can qualify to get this benefit is not nearly as great as one would think from a cursory reading of the Minister's statement.

For instance, the Minister says the 1948 Social Welfare Act fixed the age for a widow without a qualified child at 48 and that below that age the person could not get a widow's non-contributory pension. That is so but the previous Social Welfare Act fixed 55 years of age and it provided that if the widow was under 55 years of age she could not get a widow's non-contributory pension. The 1948 Social Welfare Act lowered that qualifying age from 55 to 48. A number of people were thereby enabled to get a widow's non-contributory pension who would not have got it if the 55 years of age in the previous Social Welfare Act had remained. The Minister says that over the whole country only 120 widows will benefit by the reduction from 48 to 40. The reduction appears substantial. It looks as if it might let in a considerable number of people who are now cut off from benefit but the Minister's statement that the number of people who will benefit by that amelioration in present conditions is only 120 reveals the realities of the situation.

I am glad the Minister has agreed that the training allowances which are paid to handicapped children to help in their rehabilitation will be disregarded for the purpose of ascertaining their entitlement to social welfare benefits. Many of the organisations which have set themselves the task of rehabilitating afflicted humanity have found themselves thwarted in many directions by their subjects for rehabilitation being deprived of social welfare benefits because of any training allowances which they were paid in the course of rehabilitation. The Minister has met that situation well and I think everybody will be satisfied that so far as the handicapped section of the community are concerned the State desires they should get every possible facility in order to enable them as speedily as possible to become useful members of society again.

The Minister perhaps might go a little further in that respect. Some of the organisations which deal with handicapped persons, with persons perhaps physically or mentally retarded, may not find it economically possible to pay the normal rate of wage for the work the handicapped person is doing. It may be possible for them to pay only some allowance for the work. I should imagine the Minister would be rendering very useful assistance to these organisations if he were to take power to allow the handicapped persons, who are receiving pay for work which they do but not the normal rate of pay for the job well done, to receive some portion of unemployment assistance as well, so that while they are learning occupations at which they are temporarily employed, under considerable difficulties, their inadequate pay will be supplemented.

The Minister said, however, in another connection that when he contemplates the granting of certain concessions to handicapped persons or to persons working for voluntary organisations on a kind of charitable basis, he wants to ensure by a very strict application of tests that this voluntary work is done by genuine organisations and organisations which are genuinely charitable. I would ask the Minister not to rule so rigorously in respect of organisations. There are many people, old widows, old age pensioners, seamstresses and that type of person who can do little jobs in their own homes by which they can manage to earn small sums of money from week to week and from month to month and for which, of course, it is known they get some income. In these cases I do not think violence would be done to any sound principle if the Minister were to be generous in fixing a high means test for persons of that kind. They are not going to work for anybody else. They are working at home in such circumstances and at such occupations. It is probably a way of sweetening old age as far as old age can be sweetened. There is everything to be said for permitting these elderly persons or perhaps physically handicapped persons, not able to walk or not able, for one reason or another, to mix with their fellow citizens, to carry on any avocation they can and for disregarding any relatively small income they get from these avocations when they are seeking benefit under social welfare legislation.

I have said before in this House — I think it will bear repetition — that while we are inclined to preen ourselves on our standard of social legislation, the plain unvarnished fact emerges that our standard of social legislation is lower than in Britain, is lower than in the Six Counties and is lower than in any other country in Western Europe.

If we are to go into the Common Market, which has as one of its targets the harmonising of social welfare policy so as to ensure equitable conditions in the various countries and among the various classes of workers employed in the production and the export of goods, then inevitably and essentially we must lift up our social welfare services. It does not look as if we are, through this Bill, moving in the direction of overtaking Western Europe in this respect. Western Europe continues to go on with its social welfare legislation and the gap between West European social welfare services and ours is considerable and very much to our disadvantage.

In fact, I do not see that we are catching up on that gap. Parliamentary Questions have enabled us to ascertain that our social welfare expenditure, in recent years in par- ticular, is showing a drop in relation to tax revenue. I shall quote a few examples to highlight what I mean. Tax revenue in 1957-58 was £102.7 million and social welfare expenditure was £25.5 million, so that our social welfare expenditure was 24.8 per cent. of our tax revenue in that year. In 1959-60, our tax revenue was £107.3 million and our social welfare expenditure was £25.5 million or 23.8 per cent. of our tax revenue. We come to 1960-61 when our tax revenue was £114.9 million and our social welfare expenditure was £26.2 million — only 22.8 per cent. of our tax revenue. In 1961-62, the tax revenue at £118.3 million was able to contribute £26.4 million to social welfare services — 22.3 per cent. of the tax revenue. That means that we spent 24.8 per cent. of our tax revenue on social welfare services in 1957-58 and had fallen in 1961-62 to 22.3 per cent.

The position since 1958 has been that tax revenue has gone up by £32 million, whereas only £2 million more has been spent on social welfare services. In 1958, 5/- in the £ of tax revenue was spent on social welfare, whereas this year it is only 4/- in the £. Even in this year's Budget, the tax revenue has increased by nearly £10 million; yet only one-tenth of that increase has found its way into social welfare services. It must be borne in mind that even in this Bill, on the insurance side, the ordinary provision is made possible very largely by the substantial increase in contributions payable by the employers, on the one hand, and the employees, on the other.

The Minister has stated that the increases in contributions by employers and workers will yield an estimated £1,882,000 which, he says, is exactly two-thirds of the estimated annual cost of the increases in insurance benefits — £2,800,000. However, I am one of those who believe that we should, as far as we can, try to put an insurance foundation under our social legislation. We have found that wherever that is not so, the rates of the benefits have been extremely small, that expenditure of that kind is always the target for cuts in times of recession and that the rates generally for non-contributory services are always very far short of the needs and circumstances for which they were originally devised.

I think therefore we ought as far as we can try to put an insurance basis under these contributions, although it must be recognised that acting on behalf of the whole community, the State has a very heavy responsibility to ensure that provisions for contingencies such as illness and widowhood are contingencies which the State could reasonably be expected to endow on more than an ordinary one-third basis and that employers generally having regard to the welfare of their workers, could be expected to take special recognition of what they owe and what industry owes to the community in that respect.

On the whole, I welcome the Bill as providing increases to many needy classes in the community. As I say, any expenditure of this kind among the sections concerned will have the support and the goodwill of all Parties in the House. What we must remember, however, is that while what we are doing is praiseworthy — every increase in social welfare benefits is praiseworthy for those who have to live on the benefits — we still have a long way to go before our services in this respect are as good as those of our neighbours or of the friends we hope to meet in the European Economic Community in the world of 1963 and onward.

I find it difficult to comment on this legislation because the figures here are so thoroughly mean and pitifully inadequate for the needs of the people that I find it impossible that the Government would have come into the House and offer them to Deputies without an apology for their gross inadequacy. I suppose it would have been too much to expect that the Government would have arranged to give to the Minister for Justice his proposals to provide some members of the Judiciary with £6,000 a year, and then ask the Minister for Social Welfare to come in a couple of days later in the same week and put forward these absurdly inadequate figures for other members of our community for our consideration.

There still seems to me to be a considerable residue in this country of the old aristocratic outlook of "we" and "they", the old outlook that so long as a minority are well off and well looked after, it does not matter what happens to the vast majority of our people. I cannot see how anyone knowing the value of money after the precipitous displacement of currency that has taken place in recent years, both from internal causes and from causes outside the control of the Government, could possible conceive that a widow with children to feed, an unemployed married man, a single man, or an old person could live on these sums and not go hungry.

Does the Minister seriously suggest that it is possible to feed, clothe and house a family adequately on the few shillings he is throwing to these people? Everyone must know from factual experience and from surveys carried out, particularly the nutrition survey and the household budget inquiries, that there is a great discrepancy between the standard of living of the masses of the people and the minority within the group. We were asked recently by the Minister for Justice——

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present.

The Minister has given us these figures at a time when we are all fully aware that this 2/6, this small figure, has little or no real value as currency in the present condition of living costs. It is interesting to recall that nearly 30 years ago the figure of 2/6 became a political issue in regard to the old age pensioners. It is conceivable that it was important as a political issue at that time, because it meant something in the Thirties, but it has no real meaning whatsoever as an alleged alleviation of the conditions of the old people, the unemployed or the widows with children.

The widow is probably the most pathetic of all. She is put into her position by a completely fortuitous act of God. Suddenly from having a reasonable standard of living with a breadwinner, she finds herself deprived of her husband. Surely that is hard enough on anyone, but in addition, she is deprived of the breadwinner and her children are deprived of their father. There are also a lot of psychological by-products and, in turn, we impose serious physical hardships. They are imposed in our allegedly Christian society. I completely repudiate the suggestion that society as we see it in Ireland where it is applied to the social welfare groups, and to the socially dependent groups, can be called or accepted to be a Christian society.

There are these unfortunate women; there are not very many of them. We are asked to look after minorities but this is a minority which the Minister and his colleagues do not care to look after as they should look after them. I see no reason why anyone should be given £5,000 or £6,000 a year in a society which can only offer a woman and her children, a family, £2 or £3 a week to live on, or even £4 or £5 a week. There is a basic minimum requirement which can be readily ascertained by reference to the nutrition survey and the household budget inquiries which have been carried out. Anyone who refers to them and has any knowledge of the cost of the simplest and most basic needs of human nature must know that these figures do not add up to a sufficiency for the average mother to buy food for her children, or for the old person or the unemployed person to take care of himself.

It is quite clear that the 24/- a week offered to the unemployed man is just money to get out, money to pay for a single ticket to John Bull. John Bull will take him, feed him, clothe him, care for him when he gets sick, and finally when he grows old. Are the Minister and the Government not ashamed of this hiving off of the unwanted amongst our population on to a stranger's front door? I am ashamed of it.

It is a function of the properly organised society to so organise itself as to find work for all its citizens. That is included in our Constitution. These people are not unemployed just because they do not want work. They will not get the benefits, unless it can be shown that they cannot get work. No longer can we sneer and say they are unemployable or that they would not work in a fit. No longer is that valid because if they are offered a job, they must take it. There is not a job for them. They are unemployed through no fault of their own, but because of our failure to educate them properly, or to provide them with a trade, a profession or a skill by reason of the gross inadequacy of the educational system.

That is why those unfortunate people are unemployed, and all we do when they fall unemployed is pitch them out on their necks, show them the gangplanks and press 24/- into their hands which will probably pay for a single ticket. That is the end of it. That is the way we discharge our responsibility. How can we say that in this way we are caring for our fellow citizens in our society? How can we pretend that is Christianity? Surely it is blasphemy to talk in those terms when that is the way we look after our dependants. If you want to see Christianity go to the North of Ireland, Great Britain, the Scandinavian countries, Norway and Denmark. The people there never talk about Christianity but they would teach you by the way they behave, not by the way they preach. We are specialists in preaching but when it comes to practice, our pockets are empty. We decide to adopt a particular form of economy—private enterprise capitalism. This is one of the penalties. Every time I stand up I have to point to another one. We cannot afford to educate our children properly. We cannot afford to have proper health services.

Now, the Deputy——

I shall not pursue it. Every time a Minister says that this is all we can afford, he is quite right. This is all we can afford, but it is an admission of failure and they do not seem to see it. It is an admission of the failure of the fiscal and economic policies in which they believe — private enterprise capitalism. The socialist societies have shown it is possible to plan for full employment. They have shown it is possible to have a planned economy to provide full employment—

The Deputy cannot discuss social systems on this Bill.

I do not propose to do so. Meantime, it is the same in regard to the care of old people. We say here we can afford to give them, some of them, those who have no income at all, only just a little over 30/- a week. Nobody can pretend that he could live on that amount. If I were given 30/- today and were told that for the rest of my life all I would get was 30/- a week I simply would not be able to live on it. I defy the present Minister, Deputy Boland, to do so. I would refuse to believe he could live on that amount for the rest of his life. Would he tell me whether he really believes it would be possible to get by for the rest of his life on the pittance he is here offering to people when they become eligible for the old age pension?

The Minister is a member of the Cabinet. He has to accept Cabinet responsibility, I suppose. He is merely sent in here to put forward these pleas. We cannot blame him exclusively. At the same time, it is a Cabinet which thinks it is important to give people, another section of society, £6,000 a year because of the various stupid reasons put forward, because of the necessity to have a status symbol, because of the necessity——

The Deputy may not discuss——

No, Sir; I am not discussing——

He is very assiduously dealing with that matter.

One man is hardly a section of society.

Take the case which has been put forward by the Minister's colleagues that in our society we look down on the members of the community who have very little income. Well, now, these are old people. These people are the men and women who have served society, who have served the nation. According to the Minister's colleague, these are people on whom we must look down. Is that right? Is that correct? Is that the attitude of the Minister? Does he believe old people have not the right to honour or dignity or the right to live in dignified retirement merely because they have become dependent on us, the society generally, or the State?

We criticise the family which does not look after its old people and yet we as a family, we as the community, do not discharge this simplest of responsibilities. I am surprised that the Minister has not listened to his colleague, the Minister for Justice. Presumably, all these arguments were used when the matter was considered in the Cabinet. Presumably, all these arguments were used in relation to old age pensioners, the widows, the unemployed and the judiciary. Why should they apply to one and not to the other?

We know the position from surveys that have been carried out, the surveys I have mentioned earlier. We know that our society is divided quite clearly into two groups. The groups which are mentioned in this Bill are the unemployed, the old age pensioners, the widow and her children, the unemployed and their children. It has been shown, through physical examination, that the children of the unemployed and the children of the widow are undersized, are underweight and, generally, are found to be of less sound nutrition than the children of, say, people in the professional classes or in the wealthier classes in our society.

It is completely amoral that a Government should take a step in relation to completely innocent victims such as the children of an unemployed man or the children of a widow and should penalise them in this way for something over which they have no control whatsoever. We know quite well that when we offer a widow this handful of coins or an unemployed parent this handful of coins to feed themselves and their children, to clothe themselves and their children, to house themselves for a week, they cannot do it. As I say, to the single man a nod is as good as a wink and he gets out. The next thing we do is in relation to the widow and her children and in relation to the unemployed man, the family man, and his children. We force him to get out. Again, with typical and consistent hypocrisy, in complete denial of one of the Articles of the Constitution, that the family is the basic unit of our society, we proceed with this kind of fiscal and economic policy to disrupt the family unit.

No matter how much the widow may be needed at home, she must go out and look for employment and, in that way, the family is disrupted. It should be our purpose, objective and aim to try to ensure that that woman can stay with her family, can look after them, can nourish them and can bring up her children as the average natural mother wants to bring up her children. Instead of that, we drive them out.

Similarly, the unemployed man eventually, if he has any "go" in him at all, refuses to accept this pittance from the State and he, too, takes the emigrant ship. There is, yet again, another example of disrupting the family as a result of fiscal or Government policy and Ministerial policy which must now be a considered and clearly understood policy because it has gone on for so long.

We have the children, then. There is lack of parental control. There are the other aspects all of which lead to juvenile delinquency with the youngsters ending up in the courts. Then there is the period of lecturing them on their failure and all the other things which are expressions of our own shallow-mindedness, all the result of the policies of the Minister.

I tried to find out the facts, in relation to the household burden, in the budget survey. There are many basic needs in any family. I just took some of them, not all. I priced them in an effort to see how somebody could get by on the proposals put forward here by the Minister. The Minister may be able to correct my figures marginally but I think that, broadly, they are true. — Eight pounds of bread per week is the average figure assessed as consumed by the individual; seven pints of milk; just under 1 lb. of butter; just over four eggs; four ounces of tea; just over 1½ lb. of sugar; just under 1 lb. of meat and 8 lb. of potatoes. At present costs, those come to just under £2 and they are not all the needs of an individual, according to this survey which was carried out just ten years ago.

In addition, a person — the widow with her children; the unemployed parent with his children; the old age pensioner — must face other expenses. This is for one person, incidentally. For each person in the house, just under £2 must be found for food. Then they must find transport costs. They must clothe themselves; they must find books for school in some cases; they must try to get the occasional luxury, possibly tobacco, cigarettes or a pint of beer, whatever it may be — all of these things on the grossly inadequate amount put forward here by the Minister. Of course, I welcome the slightest increase in the inadequate sums which have been made available to these unfortunate groups over the years but the Minister should not feel the slightest degree of satisfaction. He should accept that so far as he and his Department are concerned he has, as most of his predecessors have done, failed to discharge his responsibility to the dependent classes in our community as they deserve.

I compliment the Minister on the introduction of this Bill which fills a long-felt want. The Bill does not provide as much as any of us would like, but I am satisfied that it is as much as the nation's economy can afford. It is a good sign of our economy that we are able to give more to deserving sections of the community.

We heard reasoned speeches from Deputy Norton and Deputy O'Sullivan. I am sorry Deputy Dr. Browne's speech was not more reasoned. Like the Deputy, I could make a very fine speech here brimful of attacks on the Government and on the Minister with a view, of course, to political kudos at all times. There is one difference. Perhaps I could put a veneer of sincerity on it and that is more than Deputy Dr. Browne was able to do. One would imagine from the way the Deputy looked down his nose at this measure that it meant only a few pence, shillings or pounds. Is he aware that this will cost £2¼ million? That extra amount is being given to the needy sections of the community, and if that is a crime we are guilty of it.

The income limits for the means test are to be extended. The ceiling is to be raised. These are very hopeful signs indicating the day to which we all look forward, when the nation will be able to afford pensions and allowances and other benefits with no means test. That day, I hope, will come but I am not going to listen to any Deputy telling us that under John Bull our people would certainly be better off. Certainly they would not. We of the older generation know what the widowers and old people got in those hard days. We are not likely to forget it. In the glorious days of John Bull here when the widows went to the home assistance office they got half-a-crown or three shillings. They could lump it or leave it. If they grumbled they got nothing at all and there was nobody to bring the authorities to book for it. The old age pensioners were getting 5/- a week and that only from 1909. It went on at that rate until 1932. The unemployed were not getting any social assistance from the Government. The great measures, one after another, that have been put before the House to benefit needy sections of the community in some way, make us feel especially proud of the nation as a whole.

I am tired of listening to people who are always pessimistic. Pessimism is certainly bad for everyone when there is no necessity for it. This measure gives another £2¼ million and we are proud of it. It is less than a year since Section 19 of the 1961 Act was implemented and that also was an advance in social welfare of which every membe of this House and every right-thinking person outside it can feel very proud. It meant that people such as roadworkers, and those in receipt of pensions of one kind or another, when they attain the age of 70, were entitled to the first £165 of those pensions without that amount being assessable for income. We are proud to congratulate the present Minister on that.

I should like the Minister to examine this year the advisability and the feasibility of accepting British stamps for the purpose of contributory pensions. I should like to see him alter the regulations governing the means test in so far as they relate to widows because we find that a widow on a small farm seeking the widow's pension is not allowed for labour on that holding under the present regulations. We very seldom find a widow with a large holding seeking a widow's pension. I ask the Minister to look into that matter. I consider that it is unfair and contrary to Irish thinking. When the Minister has fully examined it he will be inclined to agree with me that genuine labour on the holding should be allowed for in the case of a widow seeking a pension. A concession there would do more good than all the arguing and unnecessary criticism of certain Deputies. By making the allowance I suggest we shall bring into this class some very deserving people. I have never been able to understand why they should not get an allowance for labour on their farms.

We have heard some attacks that could be described as very savage on social welfare officers but in my long experience I can truthfully say that I have never heard of an officer, for political, or any other purpose, trying to penalise any individual.

I do not think Deputies should discuss administration and that is purely administration.

I again congratulate the Minister. I shall not delay the House any longer. People of the older generation will agree with me that we are one million times better off than we were under the John Bull regime that we ended here some 40 years ago and I hope that Deputies in future will not try to placate John Bull as some of them have done.

My contribution will be very brief. While the Bill offers certain improvements in both social welfare assistance and benefits it does not go as far as any of us hoped it would go. I do not propose to cover the items already dealt with by Deputy Norton but there are one or two matters to which I should like to refer and to which he did not refer.

The new sections of the Bill provide for the extension of income limits so that certain people who are not, or were not, eligible for assistance at present will become eligible, but I am rather surprised to find that the extension of the income limits does not bring those people into benefit for the same type of pension as the lowest rate benefit being paid now. In fact, in the case of widows, what it proposes to do is to give a pension of 6/- a week. I wonder whether the Minister realises that 6/- a week at the present time is more of an insult than an addition to income.

Of course, that is not correct.

In one particular case, it is only 6/-. I am dealing with what the Minister has set out in his own statement. It is a fact that there are certain people who will qualify for an increase of 6/- a week in 1962. A State body recently gave an increase of 6/- a week to agricultural workers and we thought it was a terrible shame. Now the Minister expects us to applaud and clap because he proposes to give a benefit of that amount to these people. I will say no more about that.

Recently, Departmental officials, when examining for the means test, went as far as to check on the gardens of certain widows to find out if they had been growing a few heads of cabbage or a few drills of potatoes to help themselves out. As a matter of fact, they actually did assess these vegetables as means. I should be glad if the Minister would instruct these people that if somebody tries to help herself by growing a few vegetables, they should not be taken into account. That kind of thing is a shame and it is something that has been passed down from one Government to another. I am not going to make a political point of it.

I should like to refer to the increase in the stamps. In this connection, the Minister has carried on a bad old system, that is, that while certain people are required to pay increased contributions, they are debarred from drawing unemployment benefit. I refer particularly to the female agricultural labourers of whom there are quite a large number in the country, to domestic servants and to such people who cannot draw unemployment benefit. There is no reason why these people should be placed in the category of fifth or sixth-class citizens. Everybody else, with the exception of criminals, are allowed to draw these benefits. And these people must pay their increased share of the stamp.

The Minister also said that the farm worker would only be required to pay 6d. as his share of the contribution. That 6d. increase for the stamp is one-twelfth of the increase which these farm workers recently obtained. It may seem to the Minister to be a very small amount but to the farm worker it is one-twelfth of the increase he has obtained. We are now asking them to pay back 6d. out of the 6/- as an increase in the price of the insurance stamp. I do not think that is reasonable or logical.

Share fishermen and road workers are also included in this section. Would the Minister have another look at the section in the near future — I know he cannot do it now — to see if something can be done to ensure that these people will be treated as normal human beings, so that when they are out of a job, they can sign at the employment exchange and draw unemployment benefit? I welcome the increase to be given next January to a certain type of people. It is a good thing to see that they are getting an increase but the amount appears to me to be less than it should be. It is all right to say, as Deputy Davern has said, that the amount provided totals upwards of £2 million but I would remind the Minister that of that £2 million the insured workers are providing a considerable amount.

They are providing none of the figure Deputy Davern mentioned.

The Minister has told us that £2 million is being given.

I want the Deputy to use the correct figures if he wants to talk about it at all.

Let me point out that we did not get the document which we must use in connection with these figures until shortly before the Minister made his speech so I think he will agree that it is not so easy for us to pinpoint the figures. I should be glad if the Minister would explain because this document says a sum of £6 million is being paid out.

Deputy Davern was talking about a full financial year. In addition to the £2.3 million, there is also the £1.8 million from the insured and the employers.

I will take issue with the Minister on that point at a later stage because this document has come to me too late to verify the exact figures. The only other comment I have to make is that if the Minister intends to increase, as he claims here, the amount being allowed under the non-contributory pensions would he consider the qualifications for the contributory pensions? I believe he has made a regulation which debars a considerable number of old people who were insured all their lives from a contributory old age pension. That is one of the matters which is causing very great dissatisfaction.

Bhí sé go breágh bheith ag éisteacht leis an seanmóin árd- aigeantach a thug an Teachta Dr. de Brún uaidh, cé nach dtaithníonn sean- móintí leis an dTeachta sin de réir deallraimh. Bhí sé an-shearúsach faoin méid airgid a bhí le h-íoc faoin mBille seo. Bhí sé chomh searúsach sin gur admhaigh sé ar deireadh go mbeadh an ceart ag an Aire dá ndéarfadh sé nach raibh níos mó airgid le fáil do na cúrsaí seo fé láthair.

Dúirt sé gurbh é an t-aon réiteach a bhí ar an gceist seo ná an córas sóisialach a athrú ina iomlán. B'shin bun agus barr an méid a bhí le rá aige. Ach níl cruthú ann go bhfuil an ceart aige agus chomh fada is atá cruthú ann tá sé in éadan a thuairim. Ní éireoidh leis a áitheamh ar an Teach seo go bhfuil an ceart aige maidir le h-athrú an chórais shóisialaigh.

Dúirt an Teachta Dr. de Brún chomh maith nach bhféadfadh daoine maireachtáil ar an méid airgid a bhí dhá íoc faoin mBille seo. Nach cruthú é sin den rud is eol dúinn go léir gur beag daoine — má tá éinne ann — atá ag iarraidh maireachtáil ar na seirbhísí seo amháin? Tá a fhios againn go bhfaghann siad cabhair ó dhaoine eile agus ó sheirbhísí eile.

Nuair a bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an dTeachta Dr. de Brún ní raibh mé i ndán an smaoineamh a choimhead as mo cheann go raibh sé ina Aire Stáit anso uair amháin agus níl sé ró-fhada ó shin. Ní chuimhin liom, nuair a bhí sé ina Aire, go raibh sé ag áitheamh go ndéanfaí an córas sóisialach a athrú ina iomlán agus ní chuimhin liom go raibh sé ag moladh go laghdófaí tuar- astal na mbreitheamh nó na n-Airí chun go mbeadh níos mó airgid ag na daoine a gheibheann airgead faoin mBille seo.

Is fiú níos mó na seirbhísí a moltar san mBille seo ná na seirbhísí a bhí le fáil nuair a bhí seisean ina Aire, fiú amháin ag glacadh leis go bhfuil caill- iúint áirithe i luach airgid idir dá linn. Caithfidh go raibh roint cumhachta aige mar bhall den Rialtas ach níor éirigh leis na seirbhísí íontacha seo atá dhá moladh aige anois a chur i bhfeidhm. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil sé macánta uaidh caint den tsaghas sin a bheith ar siúl aige. Is truagh liom nach bhfuil an Teachta Dr. de Brún i láthair anois mar ba mhaith liom níos mó a rá faoin méid adúirt sé ach fágfaidh mé an scéal mar sin.

Ba mhaith liom comhgáirdeachas a dhéanamh leis an Aire as ucht an méid a rinne sé ar son na ndaoine atá gceist faoin mBille seo, go mór mhór nuair smaoinítear ar an méid airgid atá le fáil agus an méid airgid atáa le caitheamh ar an-chuid cúrsaí eile.

I have little to say but having spoken on the Budget, I want to make my contribution. I am satisfied that the Minister has done the best he could and, as has already been stated, he has improved the Budget position by £138,000. Much play was made about the small amount granted in the Budget to old age pensioners compared with the amount given to judges. Deputies forgot the fact that the total amount by which judges would benefit would be about £5,000 a year after income tax was deducted whereas the cost of the increase of 2/6 is £1,377,000. The comparison was therefore dishonest. It was dishonest to compare what certain people would get, namely, the £5,000, with what a quarter of a million people would get, amounting to £1,377,000. It was said they should have got 5/-or 10/-, but if they were to get 10/- it would have cost £5¼ millions extra. The very people who said that refused to vote for the £1,377,000, but still they said more should be granted. That is a dishonest approach. I am sure if the Opposition had voted for the increased taxation it might have encouraged the Minister and he might have done better.

Those people who complain should do so only if they can prove that they would do better. There is only one way by which we can demonstrate whether people really would do better and that is by their past record. I do not think what the Opposition did in the past shows that they would do better in the future. I am satisfied they would not have done better. In order to be enlightened on this matter I tabled a question last week regarding the increases granted to old age pensioners for the last 12 years since 1950. The answer was that in 1951 they got 2/6; in 1952 they got 1/6; in 1953 they got nothing; in 1954 they got nothing; in 1955 they got 2/6; in 1956 they got nothing — and in 1956, 5d was put on every packet of cigarettes but still they got nothing— and in 1957 they got 1/-; in 1958 they got nothing; in 1959 they got 2/6; in 1960 they got 1/-; in 1961 they got 1/6 and in 1962 they got 2/6. Therefore what they got in the past few years compares well with what they got in previous years.

How did it compare with the cost of living?

It does not matter. I am not trying to make out that the Government gave "jam" away but that they did as well as their critics did. I am not trying to make out that the pensioners did well but they did as well as anyone else would have done for them.

Why did the Deputy exclude 1948, when 7/6 was granted?

That would be an embarrassment.

Do not try to start that again.

I asked for the past 12 years. For the past four years, there was an increase and during the period——

In the cost of living.

The Coalition Government were in for two years and the pensioners got nothing. I am trying to make out that there is no evidence that the Opposition would have done better. In view of the fact that they opposed legislation to give the 2/6, the whole approach is dishonest.

(Interruptions.)

Order. Deputy Sherwin should be allowed to proceed.

The fact is that the Minister has improved the position and let us hope that with an improvement in the economy he will be able to do better next year. Play was also made of the fact that these people will not get the money until 1st August. I have also checked on the past and I found that when the Opposition were in power they did the same thing. They did not grant the money immediately after the Budget. Therefore there is no point in saying "You did not give the money in the same way as you gave it to the judges". I shall ask the Minister now, if he has any further increases in mind next year, to bring the date forward. It is too late to do it this year but it will save criticism and there is some point in the criticism that the pensioners have had to wait three or four months. It is not a point that can be made by the Opposition but there is a point that they should not be asked to wait for so long. If the Minister is giving increases next year, he should give good example by bringing the date forward and granting the money within two months at most after the Budget.

An upright judge.

I am sure they will get their money in retrospect next year, if Deputy Sherwin has anything to do with it. There is no doubt he had a tremendous influence on the Minister for Finance and the Government over the last six months. I should like to congratulate the Minister on some of the improvements he has made in the social welfare code, the improvements other than those represented by the increases announced in the Budget proposals. It is true these other improvements I speak of do not cost an amount of money, but the value is nevertheless great to the few hundred who will benefit.

I have not much to say on this measure. Anything my Party had to say about it was said on the Budget. I take exception to Deputy Sherwin posing here, by inference, as the only honest man in the House.

I am independent, anyway.

I do not know whether the Deputy is independent or not.

I am. I sit on my own.

I will take the Deputy's word for it. However, he said, whether it was a wrong choice of phrase or not, that the rest of those who spoke against the general Budget proposals were dishonest. If we had the same decision to make tonight on the general Budget proposals, the Labour Party would act in the same way. I am afraid some Deputies, particularly those who describe themselves as independent, do not understand or appreciate the significance of Parties in the House voting against the general Budget proposals. It is a bit too simple to pretend that, by voting against the general Budget proposals or various other proposals, we or any members of the Opposition here were against the increases proposed for the old age pensioners, widows, the sick and the unemployed.

I do not know how many times we have to say this, but we voted against the general Budget taxation proposals because, frankly, we believe that not sufficient of the increased taxation to be raised was devoted to those in the social welfare classes. I do not think, either, that it is dishonest or unfair to talk about the increases proposed for the judges in conjunction with the increases proposed for those in the social welfare classes. Again, it is a bit too simple to say that the increases for the judges amount to only about £20,000. Some Deputies seemed to know what the judges tax allowances are because they could even reduce that amount to £5,000 — or was it £9,000? We feel entirely justified— this is not a matter entirely for the Minister for Social Welfare—in comparing the treatment meted out to the judges with that meted out to the social welfare classes.

It is true, as Deputy Sherwin said, that during the terms of the inter-Party Government the payments to these people were not retrospective. They were operative from a date two or three months from the actual Budget announcement. Deputy Sherwin and others should remember we did not propose retrospective increases for people getting increases ranging from £12 per week down to £6 or £7 per week. I do not want to flog this issue here but it is flying in the face of the poor people to suggest, on the one hand, that judges should get in one instance an increase of £650 per annum from 1st November last, while, on the other hand, others, even though there may be 160,000 or 170,000 of them, should have to wait for three and a half months before getting 2/6 a week.

I assume Deputy Sherwin is a supporter of the Government on this issue. He asked a question as to the various increases given to old age pensioners for the past 12 years. He described them as half a crown in 1955, nothing in 1954 and so on. Again, Deputy Sherwin should remember—he in particular; not necessarily members of the Fianna Fáil Party, because they know it—that there were a hell of a lot of years when nothing was given during the 22 years of the Fianna Fáil administration. When Fianna Fáil came into power in 1932, the old age pension was fixed by them at 10/- a week. There was no increase from 1932 up to 1948, except by way of supplementary food vouchers and the like, for which there was an additional means test.

It ought to be mentioned that, while this may appear to Deputy Sherwin as a reasonable and just increase, the fact is that a lesser proportion of total tax revenue is being spent on social welfare. I have heard various Ministers for Social Welfare in the Fianna Fáil Government say, and to some extent rightly so: "We cannot pay old age pensioners any more money, unless we have the money, unless we as a Government can collect it." I charge them now, and I want to tell Deputy Sherwin, that they have collected it in greater amounts in the past three or four years by the imposition of bigger taxes on the people but those in the social welfare group are getting a smaller percentage than they did in 1957 when Fianna Fáil came back to power.

We believe there should be an increase in the percentage of State moneys devoted to old age pensions rather than a decrease, as there is at present. I know comparisons are odious, but Deputy Sherwin ought to remember that in 1955 — that was the last time an inter-Party Government increased the old age pension — there was another very important factor to be taken into consideration, namely, the £9,000,000 being provided by the Government to subsidise essential foodstuffs.

Hear, hear.

It is particularly important, if not for us, then for many in various income brackets, to have regard to the price of food. From 1955 up to 5th March, 1957, when a new Fianna Fáil Government took office, butter was 3/9d. per lb. In their Budget of April, 1957, the Minister for Finance in the Fianna Fáil Government increased that to 4/7d. Deputy Sherwin will appreciate that put a heavy burden on the old age pensioner. The old age pensioner is not used to roast beef or mutton cutlets but depends on tea, bread, butter, sugar and flour. In March, 1957, milk was 5d. a pint. Now it is 6d. a pint. When the inter-Party Government left office, the price of a 2 lb. loaf was 9d. As a result of the withdrawal of the food subsidies, that price was increased to, and stood in February, 1962, at 1/4d.

All these things should be taken into account when Deputy Sherwin says that from 1954 to 1957, the inter-Party Government did not do what they now want a Fianna Fáil Government to do. I honestly believe we could do more for these people. It is not just a matter of keeping them in step and compensating them for increases in the cost of living. The most important task is to give them a standard of living and to relate their allowances to the various fluctuations in the cost of living index figure.

I am sure I need not quote — or should I? —in view of what Deputy Sherwin said. In March, 1957, when the inter-Party Government left office and Fianna Fáil came back, flour was 4/2 per stone; again, as a result of the withdrawal of the food subsidies, it increased to 8/3 per stone; tea in 1957 was 4/11; it is now 6/2½; rashers, another foodstuff on which the old age pensioner and the social assistance classes depend, were at that time 3/10½; in mid-February, 1962, they were 4/2; clothing since then has gone up by eight per cent.; fuel and light have gone up by 16 per cent.; the rents of houses have gone up by 26 per cent., not to talk about the various increases that have been put on tobacco, stout and so on.

Let me reiterate, therefore, what I said on one occasion recently in this House: in my opinion, having regard to the cost of living, and especially having regard to the cost of essential foodstuffs, I believe the old age pensioner is not in the improved position that many Deputies believe he is. I would suggest to the Minister — I know that he must have the interests of these people at heart; I also know that he has around the spring of every year a struggle to get more money for these people — that he should ensure at least that the percentage of tax revenue devoted to social welfare is not further decreased next year.

There is little I can add to this debate except to endorse the comments of the last speaker. Deputy Sherwin classifies all those who cannot see their way to accepting this "wonderful" increase as being dishonest. Yet, even those of us who have short memories, and without quoting from the actual Official Report, can remember when Deputy Sherwin said that he would not be satisfied with "a bob or two"; it would have to be "a dollar".

I did not say that. Get the Official Report and quote. I expect that statement to be quoted. If I challenge it, it should be quoted.

The Deputy was not purporting to quote the exact words.

I believe the Minister would be very pleased to be giving "a dollar". I am sure the Minister is quite conversant with the position of these people. I do not believe he is of a different mind from that of Deputy Corish. He knows that the increase is totally inadequate. In the Budget debate, I asked the Minister to review the ceiling set by the Government in 1952 as far as old age pensioners and social welfare classes are concerned. I am sure the House will agree that it is not my practice to use this floor for anything except constructive and definitive proposals. Remembering Deputy Sherwin's propensity for the study of history, I think here attack is the best from of defence. I said, when the Budget was under discussion here, that apart from the unsatisfactory nature of the pensions and social welfare provision, I thought the Budget was as good as could be expected.

Examining my conscience, I do not feel I did anything wrong in supporting the increase for the judges. I have consistently supported every increase brought before this House. I think increases are necessary, apart altogether from the increase in the cost of living, because of the depreciation in the purchasing value of the £.

It is too much to have to listen to these repeated charges of dishonesty because one does not see eye to eye with someone else. Deputy Sherwin says he is independent and sits by himself; so long as he keeps to his present attitude, I am sure he will not be crowded out.

Vote for the increase. Do not vote against it, and look for money at the same time.

I think the rate of old age pension was 27/6 in 1957. It was then increased to 30s. This increase will raise it to 32s. 6d. I should like to direct the attention of the House to the fact that — it is a fact that is frequently lost sight of; Deputy Corish mentioned it without particularising— the cost of living bears a very close relationship to the old age pension, a much closer relationship than it does to either wages or profits. I had occasion to refer to the impact of the cost of living today on the income of the farmers, but even with the farmers, there is some margin, however slight, enabling them to adjust themselves to the stringencies of the cost of living. I do not think there is a margin open to the old age pensioner. None of us claims that the old age pension, which our resources permit us to provide, leaves any margin for the recipient, even when he is receiving the maximum possible. I think it is true to say, and I do not think it can be controverted, that there has been an increase in the cost of living of 17 per cent. since 1957.

Twenty-seven points since May, 1955.

I take 1957 since that was the time this Government took office once more. Now that represents, as I said, an increase of 17 per cent. If you have regard to the present value of money, I do not think it is unjust to say that you have got——

Does Deputy Dillon really want to say the increase in the cost of living since 1957 is 17 per cent.? Does the Deputy really want to put that on the record?

That is my impression. How many points does the Minister say?

Seventeen points.

If the base is 100, it is 17 points.

Just a moment.

As a matter of fact, it is 15 points.

I should like to be quite accurate in this matter.

Fifteen points.

The cost of living was 135 in 1957 — one-three-five.

What date in 1957?

It would, I think, be mid-February, 1957. The cost of living in mid-May, 1952, was 158. Perhaps the Minister would check that figure. Unless my mathematics are very much worse than I think, that represents an increase of 23 points in the cost of living. Perhaps the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary have now had time to check that figure. If they will put 23 over 135 and multiply it by 100, I think the resultant sum comes out at something approximating 17 per cent. I am always open to correction. Am I wrong?

I shall deal with that when I am concluding.

Can Deputy Colley make it out to be anything else, a rise of 23 points on a cost of living figure of 135, 17 per cent? The Minister seemed to be indignant and to suggest that I was seeking to mislead the House. He is fortified by abundant advice.

We shall take more relevant figures.

I am taking this figure. This is the figure I am talking about.

There are more relevant ones.

I am taking the increase in the cost of living imposed on our people by the action of the Fianna Fáil Government when they raised the price of bread from 6d. to 1/4d., the price of butter from 3/9d. to 4/4d. and the price of flour from 4/- a stone to 8/- a stone.

A Deputy

That was to balance the Budget to pay your debts.

I am quite certain the Deputy and his colleagues have volumes of alibis, but the fact remains that the correct figure,pace the Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary, the officials of the Department of Social Welfare and the other advisers whom he has available to him, is 17 per cent.

Did you not decide to withdraw the subsidies on 24th November, 1956?

You guaranteed they would not be removed if you got back to office.

I know the volume of alibis is endless but we must not extract from that volume the most precious alibi of all, the Belmullet speech. You remember the old performer saying to the people: "They tell you that we will do the most awful things——

Certain things.

——"such as increasing the price of bread, increasing the price of flour, increasing the price of butter." He did not go on to say: "We will not do it." What he went on to say was: "But we never do the awful things they say we do."

That is not relevant to the debate.

It is nice to remember Belmullet and to remember the old performer. Let us not forget those pristine days of glory. I say 17 per cent. is the correct figure of the increase in the cost of living. If we accept that figure, it is true to say that the old age pensioner will receive 32/6d. if he lives till next August — there will be no retrospective payment to November — which in terms of the pension payable in 1957 is worth approximately 27/-. I wonder what is Deputy Sherwin's reaction to that mathematical calculation?

I am only suggesting that if you want 10/-, you should vote for 10/-.

The fact is that the old age pension has not gone up by 1/-or 2/- but has come down by the dollar dear to the Deputy's heart.

If you vote for 10/-taxation, that is all right by me.

If the old age pensioners were represented by a trade union, they would remind the Minister of that fact. It would be wrong if we did not recall to the Minister's mind and to Deputy Sherwin's that whatever is the apparent amount of the old age pension, its purchasing power is shrinking and these people have no margin on which to fall back.

We all sympathise with this Minister and every other Minister for Social Welfare. We may well sympathise with ourselves that we have not more to make available better pensions for our people than we are able to afford but it is true to say that even though there is no comparison between the total cost of raising the salaries of judges and raising the pensions of old age pensioners and blind pensioners and other social service beneficiaries, there ought to be some criterion of propriety in the way we go about those things. It is not becoming, in a year when you cannot afford to do more than increase the old age pensions by a small amount, with a delay of three to four months, to choose in that year to make a very material adjustment in judicial salaries and pensions and make it retrospective for six months.

To last November.

That is more than six months.

Nine months. It is not seemly. It is not seemly if you are raising revenue for purposes of this kind, for the purpose of increasing old age pensions, that the greater part of the burden should be thrown on luxuries such as stout and tobacco, if these things are themselves perhaps the only luxuries that an old age pensioner is likely to enjoy. We have the interesting record of the fact that since Fianna Fáil came into office they are spending £23 million more per annum from revenue than was spent by the Government in 1957.

£32 million.

They are spending £23 million more from revenue and they are withholding £9 million that used to be spent on the subsidies. That together with the £23 million makes £32 million. Is it not odd that out of that immense appropriation we can find only 5/- over these years for the old age pensioners? Does Deputy Sherwin think it unbecoming that we should deplore the fact that if they increased taxation by £32 million in that period — and remember a great part of the taxation fell on bread, butter and flour — not more than 5/-can be found for the old age pensioner; he has 2/6 already and will get another 2/6 if he lives until next August? We all agree that half a loaf is better than no bread but let us remember the true dimensions of the half loaf we are providing. It is 32/6 in terms of 1962 money and that approximates to 27/- in terms of 1957 money.

I want to refer, in conclusion, to the history of this business. The old age pension was fixed at 10/- a week in 1928. It remained at that figure until 1948, but during the war there was allowed 2/6 in kind for anyone living in rural Ireland and 5/- in kind for anyone living in Dublin or Cork. In 1948, the old age pension was increased to 17/6 per week for everybody.

A promise.

No promise. It was increased to 17/6 a week for everybody in town and country. In 1951, a further 2/6 a week was provided and Deputies will remember that that Budget was introduced by Deputy McGilligan.

A decent man.

Fianna Fáil were then elected, with the aid of four Woolworth diamonds and a diamond harp, but the old age pension remained at that figure. In 1952, on the occasion of the withdrawal of the first gale of food subsidies, Fianna Fáil undertook, as compensation for the increase in the cost of living thus caused, to raise the old age pension. Deputy Davern's evergreen memory will recall what that increase was.

What about the means test? Was that not extended substantially?

I do not think it was at that time but Deputy Davern will recall that the great increase which was to compensate for the withdrawal of the first gale of food subsidies was 1s. 6d. per week. In 1955, under the inter-Party Government, the old age pension was further increased from 24s. to 26s. 6d. per week.

A marvellous achievement.

In 1957, the Fianna Fáil Government increased the pension by 1s.; in 1959, it was further increased by 2s. 6d.; in 1960, it was further increased by 1s.; in 1961 by 1s. 6d.; and now, in the Bill we are discussing, it has been further increased by 2s. 6d.

And the Deputy voted against it.

The interesting fact is that in the years from 1948 to 1955 the old age pension was increased by 10s. a week by inter-Party Governments. In the 26 years that Fianna Fáil have been in office, the total sum of their increases has been 10s.

12s. 6d., is it not?

It was 1s. 6d. in 1952, 1s. in 1957, 2s. 6d. in 1959, 1s. in 1960, 1s. 6d. in 1961 and 2s. 6d. in 1962. Let us add that up and we find it is 10s. It is an interesting study, is it not? I think, though I shall not dogmatise on it, that during the period of the inter-Party Government, when Deputy Norton was Minister for Social Welfare, the means test was very materially relaxed. I cannot remember these things clearly but I think the means test was altered from £39 to £104.

From £39 to £52.

My recollection is that at that time there were very extensive relaxations of the means test which brought a very considerable number of beneficiaries within the old age pension and widows and orphans codes. All that is important is that these facts should be taken on all sides of the House as a demonstration of the common desire to improve, as far as our resources would permit, the circumstances of beneficiaries of our social service code.

It is also very important that these facts should operate to slaughter for the last time the Fianna Fáil fraud that they are the Party most concerned for social services in this country. The facts are that, with the exception of the very few dafties among us — and thank God we have them since they add colour and charm to our proceedings — everybody wants to help as far as he can the less fortunate sections of our community.

However, we must remember that there is nobody to whom the cost of living means more and that if we allow the cost of living steadily to rise, when we intend to increase our pensions, we may discover that we are not allowing the benefits from these increases to have effect since the cost of living will have negatived them before they get them. We must endeavour to achieve a situation where this will not happen at a time when we give others an increase of from £10 to £12 a week and nine months' retrospection, lest the new rates should prove insufficient to meet their urgent needs.

My contribution is designed to register the strongest possible protest against the shameful manner in which the Government have dealt with the most needy and deserving sections in the community. The old age pensioners can properly be described as the weakest section of the community. When they reach the age of 70 years they are granted the old age pension and many of them have no other means of livelihood. There are many people in the country today who are entirely and completely dependent on the old age pension. Some of them have it supplemented by 2/6 or 5/-home assistance. There is a very strict means test for an old age pension. We should all like to see that means test completely abolished, so that every person who reaches the age of 70 would qualify for an old age pension. There is very little argument for depriving an old age pensioner of his pension when we are paying children's allowances to the very well off and well-to-do people with no means test.

It is very clear that the Government have completely and entirely forgotten how difficult it is for anyone to exist on 30/- a week at present, more particularly when the Government have concentrated all their energies on increasing the prices of foodstuffs: bread, flour and butter, which are the essential requirements of any old age pensioner. More recently the cost of the only enjoyment left to an old age pensioner, a smoke, has been increased. The cost of living has been allowed to rise recklessly by the Government. The prices of food, fuel and rents are vastly increased and the best the Government can do for the old age pensioners — people who have given their best years in the service of the country; people who should be living in the full terms of Christian decency in their old age and their last days — is to give them a miserable 2/6 as from next August.

Like the Leader of the Opposition I fail to see how the Government can possibly reconcile that with giving the well off, well paid, well-to-do judges an increase in some cases of £10 a week——

They did not take 1/- from them.

——with back money from last November. Here we are providing 2/6 for the old age pensioner, if he lives to draw it next August. That is the manner in which the Government have treated the old age pensioner, the old men and the old women whose families may have left them.

They might not have any family.

They may never have married and now find themselves entirely and completely dependent on 30/- per week. I should like to know how any member of the House could exist if he were reduced to an income of 30/- a week. I should like to know the circumstances of any citizen who is forced to live on 30/-a week. It is very clear and there is ample evidence, that never before in the history of the country was there such a strain on charitable institutions, such a strain on the funds of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, such a strain on the voluntary organisations.

That strain is there because there is a large section of people with pride still left in them who would spend one or two days in the week in semi-starvation rather than allow it to become publicly known that they were in poor and difficult circumstances. Those are the people who are being dealt with in this cruel, harsh, unreasonable, unjust manner by the Government. Do we realise how grand it is that a number of the older people still have sufficient pride to be prepared to suffer the hardships of the present high living costs without a murmur?

The Government have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the reasonable demands of the old age pensioners. We were given to understand that they were likely to get an increase of 5/-a week. I certainly will not go into the circumstances of the increase of 5/- a week, but that 5/- which they were to get has been reduced to 2/6d., and they do not get it until next August.

Would not one imagine that any Government whose intentions towards the old age pensioners had an atom of sincerity would have taken steps to provide for the poorer section of the people, those in receipt of non-contributory old age pensions? The Government would have won the admiration and support of the people if they had courageously given the old age pensioners a reasonable pension on which they could exist. I should like to see the contributory old age pension at £3 a week and the non-contributory old age pension at £2 a week. I do not see what is stopping the Government from giving that.

What stopped the Deputy's Government?

If the Government are in such a good financial position as the Minister for Transport and Power tells us in some after-dinner speeches, if the State is in such a good sound financial position as the Minister for Lands tells us in some of his after-dinner speeches, if the Government are so well off, with prosperity around the corner as we are told by other Ministers in after-dinner speeches, why cannot they display that prosperity in an honest and a practical way to the people who need it most, the old age pensioners? Deputies who are in close contact with the old age pensioners in their constituencies know that they are the section of the community that is suffering more today than any other section.

I feel this Government have treated them wrongly. They have not treated them in accordance with the full terms of Christian decency. They have thrown the old age pensioners to the wolves and have closed their eyes to the old age pensioners who, in many cases, have to eat dried crusts from Wednesday to Friday morning.

Is it any wonder that in any part of rural Ireland, on the stroke of 9 o'clock in the morning, you will see many old age pensioners with their pension books in their hands on Friday morning going to the post office? Many of them in many parts of the country go fasting, because they have no bread or milk or butter, until they return with their old age pensions, in their homes. There are empty cupboards for the old age pensioners, presented to them by Fianna Fáil.

The Deputy is casting an aspersion on the people of this country and it is a shame.

Of course it is a shame.

I see in my constituency many an old age pensioner with his or her empty cupboard waiting for his or her old age pension on a Friday morning. It is only on a Friday morning or on a Friday afternoon or on a Friday night that they can really enjoy a single good day's food.

On a Friday?

If Deputy Leneghan does not wish to listen to Deputy O.J. Flanagan, he has a remedy.

Deputy Leneghan could not listen to Deputy O.J. Flanagan.

Deputy Leneghan must take the responsibility of this half crown next August, the half crown that they did not get yet. He is the one who put the Government in a position to treat the old age pensioners in this mean, low and very shabby fashion. Naturally enough, one could not expect the Deputy to remain in this House when all this is haunting him day after day and night after night.

The Minister for Social Welfare, who has in his constituency extremely wide contacts, must himself know the circumstances under which many old age pensioners, living alone, are compelled to exist at the present time. There is one way in which the Government can really extend their charity in a practical manner, that is to give to the old age pensioners what they are rightly entitled to, namely, a pension that will enable them to purchase the essentials of life from week to week. That is all they are asking.

This Bill, giving 2/6 next August, is a disgrace. It is a sham. Half-a-crown is not enough. Half-a-crown is an insult to the old age pensioners. If the Government are in the happy position in which they allege they are, then the very least they can give the old age pensioner is 10/- of an increase and make it retrospective to the very day from which the judges got theirs.

The Minister for Social Welfare has betrayed the old age pensioners. He has sold them out for the judges. That is why I think this 2/6, coming as it will next August, is the greatest possible insult that could be offered to the men and women who gave good service to this country, who have given the best years of their lives in building up this country and who now find themselves thrown on the scrap heap with a paltry 2/6 increase in the old age pension which is expected to make up for the brutal and savage increases the Government have recklessly brought in living costs which have put a severe hardship on those least able to bear it.

Bhí mé a' ceapadh, go dtí gur thánaig an Teachta Diolún agus an Teachta Ó Flannagáin isteach annseo, ná bhéadh morán le déanamh agam ach mo bhuíochas a ghabháil do's na Teachtaí ar an dtaobh eile de'n Tigh a labhair ar an mBille seo. Bhí duine amháin eile, an Teachta de Brún. a bhí cosúil leis an Diolúnach agus an Teachta Ó Flannagáin acht do tugadh an freagra do'n méid a dúirt sé cheana féin 'san méid a dúirt an Teachta Ó Colla.

Biodh sin mar atá, maidir leis na daoine eile a labhair, bhí sé soléir gur thuig siad an fhaidhb a bhí ann chun na rátaí seo do mhéadú. Bhí sé soléir gur thuig siad go bhfuil dhá thaobh de'n sgéal ann. Thuig siad go raibh ar an Rialtas an tairgead a bhailiú ó's na daoine sar ar bhféidir leo é do bhronnadh ar na daoine eile.

As I have said, until Deputy Dillon and Deputy O.J. Flanagan entered the House, it appeared that I would have little else to do but to thank Deputies for the responsible way in which they had approached this Bill. Apart, of course, from their colleague, Deputy Dr. Browne, there seemed, up to then. to have been a genuine appreciation of the problems involved in dealing with social welfare payments. That would have made my task seem easier and also it would have allowed me to conclude rather more quickly than I shall be able to do now.

Deputy Dillon and Deputy O.J. Flanagan came in and adopted a different attitude. They adopted an attitude similar to that which they adopted on the Budget debate. One would think that that kind of insincere and irresponsible argument had adequately been disposed of in the Budget debate. I think that people generally appreciate that that kind of talk is pure nonsense.

As I said, the contributions made by other Opposition speakers seemed to indicate to me, at any rate, that at last there was a realisation of the fact that if either of the main Opposition Parties are ever to be considered by the people as fit to form a Government, it is about time they started to try to give the people an image of themselves as a responsible Party who took into consideration every aspect of the different problems that confront a Government. Deputy Dillon and Deputy O.J. Flanagan, I think, have succeeded very well now in undoing the attempt by other Opposition speakers to create a more responsible impression on the people.

Deputy Dillon started off with a rather pathetic and unsuccessful attempt to establish that the increases in the old age pensions have not kept pace with the increases in the cost of living. Of course, the attempt by him was bound to be a failure because the figures are against him. But, although that was well-established in the Budget debate, he insisted on trying to bluff his way out of it here again by carefully selecting figures in relation to the cost of living to try to prove his point. Even those carefully selected dates, which were the best which Deputy Dillon could do, disproved his own case.

Even though on the basis of those figures there is a 17 per cent. increase in the cost of living since mid-February, 1957, the corresponding increase in the old age pension rate has been 35 per cent. which was a little more than double the increase in the cost of living. Any set of figures you take, if you go to any date and compare the rate of old age pensions with the cost of living and compare the situation then with the situation now, it will be seen that under the Fianna Fáil Government there has been a continuous improvement in the relevant position of the old age pensionervis-á-vis the cost of living.

As usual, the Fine Gael Party in particular referred to nothing else but non-contributory old age pensions. Do they know there is any other social service in existence? Do they know of any other people who need State assistance apart from that section? It has been shown time and again that their record even in that regard — on old age pensions — cannot bear comparison with Fianna Fáil's. Deputy Dillon again tonight tried to bluff his way out of this by attempting the same trick as Deputy Sweetman attempted in the Budget debate of comparing maximum rates with minimum rates. The only true criterion is to compare like with like, maximum with maximum. That is the only accurate way to compare old age pensions or anything else. The increase given in 1948, when you compare like with like, was 2/6.

That was the amount by which the new maximum rate exceeded the old maximum rate plus the cash allowance.

The Minister is not being fair now.

Some people got no cash allowance.

No, if you are not prepared to accept that rational method of comparison and if you want to go into it in full detail you will find that some people got no increase at all in 1948.

That was not enough. Deputy Dillon tried to claim a further increase for one of the two periods when he was a member of the Coalition Government. Even at this stage, it is surprising to find that Deputies opposite have the nerve to drag in the 1951 faked election Budget The increase that was given in 1951 of 2s. 6d. was given in the same way as this has been given, by a Social Welfare Bill introduced by the new Fianna Fáil Government. It is true that it was mentioned in the Budget Statement or, a better description of it would be the Budget election manifesto, of 1951 but whether money was provided or not was another question. That was left to the new Fianna Fáil Government to do. We decided to honour the commitments that had been made but not provided for by our predecessor and it was the Fianna Fáil Government who had to provide money to pay that increase in 1951. The damage had been done; the deliberately unbalanced Budget had been introduced and it was in 1952 that we had to provide the money for that 2s. 6d. which we gave in a Social Welfare Act of 1951. We also gave further increases in 1952.

On the figures I have given, since 1948 there has been an increase of 17/6d. in non-contributory old age pensions. Of that increase, 5/- was given by the Coalition Government and 12/6d. by the Fianna Fáil Government. That is the only social service that Deputies opposite have the nerve to mention. They try to pretend that was the only thing that happened with regard to social services.

It is not the only thing that happened even in regard to old age pensions. No doubt Deputy Dillon and Deputy Flanagan would like to forget but I shall not allow them to forget that in addition to their far superior record in regard to non-contributory old age pensions, the Fianna Fáil Government also introduced, for the first time, the contributory scheme which gave an ex-insured person and his wife with no means test, a pension of 70/- a week which is now being raised to 80/- and which provided, although it was to be a contributory scheme, that this amount should be available to ex-insured workers even though they had not, in fact, contributed anything by way of insurance stamps to such a scheme.

That is the record in regard to the only social service that Deputies opposite have the nerve to mention but in addition to that there are other services. Seeing that their record is so bad in regard to old age pensions it seems at first sight rather peculiar that there is no mention of anything else and that in discussing social welfare, either on the Bill or on the Budget, Deputies opposite concentrate on old age pensions. Of course the reason for the coyness in regard to other schemes is not far to seek. It is perfectly obvious when you look at the record because bad as is their record in regard to old age pensioners it is infinitely worse in regard to other people in receipt of Social Welfare payments.

Is it possible that they can find no place in their hearts for the unemployed person with a wife and family? How is it there is no mention of him? How is it that in two periods of the Coalition Government no increase was given in unemployment assistance? How is it that every assistance that was given was given by Fianna Fáil? Why do they not mention children's allowances? Because children's allowances were introduced by Fianna Fáil and every increase given since was given by Fianna Fáil. It is because they have no record whatever in regard to the other social services that they try to concentrate on old age pensions. We have shown greater concern for old people than our opponents showed when they had the opportunity to do something. In addition, we have recognised that there are other people to be provided for, others who are unfortunate enough not to be able to provide for themselves and we have taken steps to see that they were not allowed to lag behind in spite of the Coalition neglect.

It must seem amazing that, in discussing this Bill, Deputy Dillon had the nerve to stand up and completely ignore the fact that for instance a married man with four children on unemployment assistance gets, under this Bill, an increase of 15/- a week if living in an urban area and 17/- a week if in a rural area and that there is a further increase of 2/6 in respect of each qualified child dependent. I suppose this catchcry they are trying to get the people to accept —"2/6 for the old age pensioner"— sounds rather good and it might be effective if the people were as silly as the Fine Gael Party appear to think they are. Apparently, they will never learn that people are not such fools and will see through this business of objecting to the inadequacy of increases and at the same time trying to prevent the Government from collecting the money that is necessary to give the increases, even on the scale they describe as most inadequate and describe with the other exaggerated adjectives that have been used.

I have dealt with the old age pensioners and shown that in so far as they are concerned Fianna Fáil have a better record and also that they have a far superior record with regard to the other social services. That is why we were not questioned on them. When I spoke on the Budget, I showed quite clearly that we had seen to it that all social welfare payments more than compensated the recipients for the increase in the cost of living, that we had given evidence of the fact that it was our policy to see that the recipients of social welfare benefits did not fall behind the improvements in the economy of the country. I do not know if there is any point in repeating the figures I gave in regard to the increases in the cost of living and the increases in the old age pensions, but if anybody is anyway anxious to see the true position, it is obvious that the relative position with regard to all social welfare benefits as compared with the cost of living has improved under this Government.

Deputy Dillon, having gone so far, apart from the bluff he tried, went further and tried to make out that a greater increase had been given by the Coalition Government, that the increases given by this Government since 1957 were only 5/- in regard to non-contributory old age pensions. It is not too much to expect Deputies to remember what was done in this respect in the term of office of this Government. In 1957, there was an increase of 1/-; in 1959, of 2/6; in 1960, of 1/-; in 1961, of 1/6; and in 1962, of 2/6. That amounts to 8/6 and not 5/-, as it is according to Deputy Dillon's peculiar system of mathematics.

That is not the only thing. In practically every one of those years, there was an increase in the majority of the other social services. As I pointed out in the Budget debate, this year we have set a new record in regard to the increases in social welfare. That follows upon the improvement the change of Government brought in the country's economy. We have gone across the whole field of social services this year; we have raised the rates by substantial amounts in every one of them.

Deputies opposite would have you believe that this year the only increase given is 2/6 for non-contributory old age pensions but that is not so. In unemployment assistance, there is an increase of 2/6 in the personal rates, another 2/6 for an adult dependant and a further increase in urban areas for the unemployed man with two children of 5/- and in rural districts, an increase of 7/-. There is a further increase for the man on unemployment assistance of 2/6 for each dependent child in excess of two. That, apparently, is of no importance to the Opposition and the record bears that out because they have never given any increase in that particular social service.

Similarly, there has been an increase of 2/6 for widows and, there again, the rates for children have been brought up to the level of the contributory rates. They have not been brought any further because it would be anomalous for the rates in the case of non-contributory pensions to be higher than those of the contributory ones. Due to previous adjustments made by Fianna Fáil, the rates for child dependants of non-contributory widows are practically the same as those for contributory widows. Any reference to these was omitted altogether by the Opposition speakers because of their own record and because it would deprive them of grounds for the unrealistic and irresponsible attack they wished to make on this Bill.

I have also given in my introductory statement examples of the increases on the insurance side. There is an increase of 5/- in the personal rate for unemployment benefit, disability benefit, widows' contributory pensions and contributory old age pensions, plus a 5/- increase to the adult dependants attaching to all those, plus a 3/- increase in respect of each child. I think that, in view of these facts, to describe this Bill as simply one of 2/6d. for old age pensioners is irresponsible and dishonest. It is easy for Deputies opposite to talk about 2/6d. for old age pensions. Unfortunately I, as a member of the Government who have to provide the money, have to think of the £783,000 which that aspect of this Bill will cost. The Government have to make arrangements to collect that money from the people because there is no place else they can get it. One would imagine that when the Opposition are so critical of the size of the increases given they would not try to prevent the Government from collecting the necessary money to pay these increases.

The cost of the non-contributory old age pensions is £783,000 and the cost to the Exchequer of the full proposals for social assistance benefit is £1,377,000. The total cost of the proposals on the social insurance side is £2,823,000 of which one-third is being borne by the Government. That makes the total cost to the Exchequer in a financial year £2,318,000. Because of the arrangements the Government have made in this Bill, the recipients of social welfare benefits will obtain in a full financial year an additional £4,200,000. No matter what way you look at it, that is a respectable and sizeable effort to make as far as a redistribution of income is concerned in favour of those people who, through one cause or another, are unable to provide for themselves.

I am not surprised at Deputy Dr. Browne talking in this strain but I had the idea that having learned from their experience of two Coalition Governments the Fine Gael Party might now like to aspire to be regarded as a responsible Party fitted to carry on Government. But, as I said, in discussing this matter they certainly gave no signs that they will make any effort to represent themselves in that way.

I would not dwell too long on the subject of irresponsibles these days.

The matter of the total revenue expended on social services was raised. Of course when you have over 90,000 unemployed people you will spend more on unemployment benefit and unemployment assistance than when you have half that number.

That is a poor argument.

It is not a poor argument. We have provided the increase in rates and if we had as many people in need of social assistance and social benefit as you had the total amount would be correspondingly larger. Because of the improvement that followed in the country's economy from the change of Government that number has been substantially reduced. The result is that although we have effected these substantial improvements in the rates the total expenditure on social welfare benefits as a percentage of the total tax revenue——

There are fewer employed than there were when you came in.

In spite of that the proportion of the total tax revenue——

That is a poor argument, is it not, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle?

The Deputy might let the Minister make his argument.

——is a considerable proportion and is larger than in those countries that were praised to the skies by Deputies opposite. For instance, Deputy Norton referred to the Social Insurance Fund and tried to convey the impression that we were not nearly as generous in our contributions to the Social Insurance Fund as any other country in Western Europe. In this part of Ireland the State's contribution to the Social Insurance Fund is approximately 37 per cent., in Great Britain it is 17 per cent. and in Northern Ireland 12 per cent.

I do not claim and never have claimed, and I do not think anybody here has claimed, that the rates of the social welfare payments are sufficient to ensure that the recipients, people who have met with various kinds of misfortune, will be able to have the same standard of living as people who are in position to provide for themselves. That is not our fault. As I said, we have been effecting a gradual improvement and this Government have shown that they do their best to alleviate the hardship that misfortune always brings in its wake, in accordance with the capacity of the country's economy to finance the operations in that respect.

That capacity has been improving. This year the total Exchequer provision for social welfare, including the cost of the various provisions in this Bill, amounts to £27.6 million, or 20.2 per cent. of the estimated total tax revenue. The collection of that amount by the Government from the people for redistribution to those who are in need is a considerable effort by the Government in that direction. Of course when it is remembered that in addition to that, as Deputies have not been slow to point out, a considerable amount is also raised by way of contributions from workers and employers, there is definitely a very good effort being made by the Government to redistribute the national income so that hardship will be alleviated as far as possible.

How can the Minister say that when the percentage is decreasing every year?

We cannot get money from any other source than the people. Whether we do it by taxation or by contributions from the workers or the employers it all comes from the same source. As I have said, we at least have shown we have the interests of all these people at heart but I am not complacent about the adequacy of the rates and as I have pointed out and as my predecessor, and the Taoiseach, on a number of occasions have said it is our intention to see that recipients of social welfare payments will share in the country's improved economy. As a member of the Government I have to take cognisance of the fact that it would not be in the interests of the public, particularly people dependent on social welfare payments, to increase the burden of taxation to such a point that it would strangle the development and expansion that is taking place in the country's economy at the moment. The fact that unlike our predecessors we have made some improvement in every year since 1957 shows that we realise the rates——

In every Budget.

——should be increased.

In every Budget, the Minister means.

I said in every year.

We did it in every Budget.

Who did?

You had not got a "bob".

(Interruptions.)

You were there for six years, two periods of three years. There was a Fine Gael Minister for Finance and a Labour Minister for Social Welfare and in only two years was any increase given to old age pensioners.

And the food subsidies were retained.

(Interruptions.)

I do not think it is worth my while replying to the criticisms of Deputy Dr. Browne. He argued that the Government were penalising the children of unemployed parents when in fact it is obvious that what we have been doing is alleviating the hardship that the misfortune of losing employment or losing one's health must inevitably bring in its wake. Such statements as "throwing a few shillings to the old pensioners" are complete nonsense when considered in conjunction with the amount of money that has to be raised in order to implement this Bill.

There were criticisms of the form of our society here. The fact is that in any society, even in the type of society which Deputy Dr. Browne apparently has in mind and would have established here, there is financial recognition for different levels of activity on the part of the people. As I said, apart from the speeches of Deputy Dillon and Deputy Flanagan, the contributions were reasonable and, unlike the Budget debate, took cognisance of the difficulties in regard to increasing rates. While there was criticism of the amounts, there was that recognition on the part of all the other speakers.

Some Deputies did not seem really to appreciate some of the things that were being done. I think that when Deputy Tully studies the Bill more closely, he will see it is unfair to say, for instance, that the extension of the means limit with regard to widows only means that certain widows will get a pension of 6/-. That is not a fact. It does a lot more. What it does in relation to the 6/- is that a widow who otherwise would be just outside the limit for the present minimum pension, which now will be 11/-, would get nothing but such a widow will now get a pension of 6/-. It will do the same with regard to old age pensions. The main thing that is done by the extension of the means limit, as I think Deputy Tully knows now, is that prior to this, £130-15-0 annual means was the over-riding limit for any widow irrespective of the number of children she had so that a widow, depending upon the number of children she had, who is just under £130-15-0 means, could be getting, possibly, a pension of the order of £1 or even £2. If she had one shilling over the £130-15-0, she got nothing at all. Now we have arranged that the means limit will be extended in relation to the number of dependants.

We have done that for non-contributory widows, non-contributory old age pensioners and also for unemployment assistance recipients and while it is true that the total number of people who will benefit from these extensions is comparatively small, in respect of the majority of those who do benefit it will be a considerable improvement for them.

Will the Minister guarantee that his inspectors will not revise the valuations as they did before by adding a shilling on here and there and still depriving them?

The means tests laid down are statutory ones. I cannot instruct any official—and I do not think any responsible Minister could instruct his officials — not to administer the law. I do not believe it is being done in a harsh way. If Deputies will give me instances——

You could not.

——of harsh treatment of people, having regard to the law as it stands, I will have them investigated. I do not think there are any other points which it is necessary for me to go into. I thank the vast majority of Deputies for their approach to the Bill but we had the usual irresponsible Deputies — Deputy Dillon, Deputy Flanagan and Deputy Dr. Browne. I think this House has come to expect little else from them except the type of contribution they made.

Question put and agreed to.

It is important that the Bill should be passed as soon as possible. It has to go to the Seanad. If the House is agreeable, I should like to be given all Stages.

That is an old yarn.

That is all right.

(Interruptions.)

We are agreeable to give the Minister the remaining Stages but might I also say that the Bill could have been brought in before now to permit of a more detailed examination of its contents?

I do not mind giving it to the Minister. Would Thursday be all right?

There might be difficulty. It has to go to the Seanad.

They are hard-working fellows.

Deputy Corish knows that the Bill has to become law before the money is paid.

The only reason I said what I said is because we assume, in the first place, that you are going to have two Bills — one for the old age pensioners and unemployment assistance and later on in the year another for the insurance classes. There are lots of improvements in this that I would like explained in more detail. If there is all that urgency about the Bill, the Minister can have all Stages. Will the Minister promise he will have his very valuable booklet revised as quickly as possible?

That will be better than any Committee Stage.

Agreed to take remaining Stages today.