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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 21 Apr 1971

Vol. 253 No. 2

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Unemployment Assistance.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will state, with reference to the Unemployment Assistance (Employment Period) Order. 1971 (S.I. No. 128 of 1971), the total number of persons concerned and the total expenditure involved in the event of unemployment assistance not being withdrawn from such persons.

The Order referred to— which was revoked and replaced by the Unemployment Assistance (Employment Period) (No. 2) Order, 1971 (S.I. No. 142 of 1971)—envisaged a saving of £1.35 million on the basis that an estimated number of about 15,000 men without dependants would not be eligible for unemployment assistance throughout the period 14th April, 1971 to 16th November, 1971.

Might I ask the Minister if he would state in relation to the total sum given to the House the cost of the withdrawal of the unemployment benefit order in relation to the rural areas, if he could split the figure for us?

He should be able to do that when he made the order.

The order, as it applies today, would affect some 12,000 or 13,000 people. This number can vary from time to time but on the assumption that they would all draw unemployment assistance constantly during the 31 weeks referred to it would be £1.2 million.

If it is a fact that when the order was last in existence in 1967 the then Minister for Social Welfare found it necessary to withdraw it within a matter of weeks because there was no rural employment for these people, would the Minister agree it was a very foolish action of his at this stage——

It does not arise on this question.

It does.

This question is purely statistical and was allowed for this reason. Other questions dealing with what the Deputy mentions have been ruled out of order because I understand there will be a full discussion on this matter tomorrow.

I am well aware that there will be a full discussion on this tomorrow. The point I am trying to make is that, in view of the cost which has been included in the Budget, is it not obvious that the Minister did in fact originally intend the whole lot, city and country——

That is outside the scope of this question. It can be discussed fully tomorrow.

We all know that Fianna Fáil at their party meeting this morning had difficulty over this.


Surely this is a relevant question?

It is not a relevant question. May I point out that the Chair has disallowed at least six questions on the lines put forward by Deputy Tully and for that reason also I am not allowing any further discussion on this statistical question on the grounds that it would be unfair to other Deputies who have something to say.

Therefore it is a great pity the Chair was not presiding at the Fianna Fáil meeting this morning.

In relation to the number of people affected by this the Minister refers to persons without dependent relatives. Would he define what a dependent relative is?

The nearest I could go to defining it is: a person for whom the claimant is already claiming as a dependant. It could be a disabled brother or some person whose maintenance is the responsibility of the claimant.

Take the case of two bachelors living in a small holding. Would one be considered a dependant?

It would depend on——

Whether he was Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.


Would the Minister say whether or not a person who would be depending on unemployment assistance——

I am calling Question No. 8. The Deputy will get ample opportunity to discuss this matter in tomorrow's debate.