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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 5 Jun 1980

Vol. 321 No. 11

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Butter Scheme.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason the EEC Social Assistance Butter Scheme does not extend to contributory old age pensioners and retirement pensioners under the Social Insurance Scheme.

The scheme does not extend to the categories mentioned by the Deputy because the EEC regulation which authorised its introduction specifically limited its scope to persons receiving social assistance. The EEC Commission, has, however, been approached with a view to including contributory pensioners in the scheme.

Is there a common definition for social assistance across the entire Community which enables them to make this interpretation in relation to Ireland?

One of the problems is that the comparisons are not so simple across the different countries. We have pointed out that many of the people concerned on contributory pensions would still be on relatively low incomes. Our contention is that they should benefit from the scheme. The Commission would be of the view that, if you can separate those from the rest, that might be acceptable. This is the kind of debate currently going on as to how to define people once you go beyond our social assistance schemes.

When did the Minister or his predecessor first take this matter up with EEC? Is a decision on it a matter for the Ministers for Agriculture of the EEC or for the Minister for Social Welfare?

As Minister for Social Welfare, I have made representations about it. The question was raised previously by me during my period in office. I understand that my predecessor also made representations in relation to it.

Without success so far.

We have not given up at this point in time. We are currently making representations.

Is there any suggestion of the Commission making representations to the Council of Ministers about the matter?

Not to my knowledge.

In the event of the continued refusal of the Commission to allow their subsidy scheme to apply to contributory pensioners and in view of the very widespread unrest and unhappiness felt by people in those categories, would the Minister consider introducing a State scheme equivalent to the assistance scheme for pensioners?

That is a completely different question.

Would the Minister even consider it?

It is a separate matter. I am currently making representations in relation to the scheme.