Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 30 May 1923

Vol. 1 No. 23



There are no amendments sent in to this Bill except one, and that is a signal compliment to the Seanad, because it is a request, apparently, on the part of the Government that we should amend this Certified Money Bill in one particular respect. That, of course, we can only do in the shape of a recommendation, but, as the amendment is one which the Government wishes to have inserted, and it is a purely formal one, I am sure there will be no objection.

You mentioned that there were no amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Bill. On the Orders of the Day it is stated that this is only the Second Stage, and, for that reason, members did not send in amendments they had in mind.


That can hardly be quite accurate for this reason, that at the time the agenda was sent out, the time for sending in amendments had expired. You wish to move an amendment now?


In that case, if you are anxious to do so when we reach the next stage, the Seanad will probably give you leave to move it. At present we will confine ourselves to the Second Reading.

According to the Orders of the Day, there is no mention of the Committee Stage of the Bill for to-day.


There is nothing on the Orders of the Day, as far as I can see, confining it to the Second Reading.

There is a Standing Order.


The item on the Orders of the Day is: Unemployment Bill, 1923.

Second Stage. I object to the Committee Stage being taken until members have had an opportunity of putting in amendments.


If there is a general desire on the part of the Seanad, or on the part of any member, to have this Bill amended, I think the best plan would be to take the Second Stage only to-day.

Apart from the fact that many of us may not have sent amendments in, it should hardly be taken for granted that a Bill is to be rushed through all its stages in one day. There must be a special reason for doing so, as in the case of the Bill we have just dealt with. We have Standing Orders, and surely they are not for ornament, or for the sake of breaking them.


I think the Seanad will agree that if there is a Bill of which Senators have received full notice, and it is a certified Money Bill, as this is, and having had time to send in amendments, it would be not only in the public interest, but in the interest of the Seanad to put the Bill through all its Stages. As members have expressed a desire to have amendments to this Bill discussed, I think the proper course is to confine ourselves to-day to the Second Stage of it.

I think there are other interests concerned besides members of the Seanad. This Bill proposes to deal with the whole working-class population of Ireland, and surely there ought to be full consideration given to a Bill that affects the whole working class population.


I think there is confusion. You can discuss it to-day fully, and go into the merits and demerits on the Second Reading. You have no power to amend the Bill, but you have power to suggest recommendations, and all I do say is, that in a case of a Bill like this, when no notice of any recommendation is given, and it is a certified Money Bill, unless there is a strong expression to the contrary by the Seanad, it might be in the public interest and in the interest of the Seanad to dispose of it. In view of what Senator Linehan has said about this particular Bill, and his desire to move an amendment, I think the proper course is to confine ourselves to the Second Stage to-day.

For future arrangement, I think it would be well if we had a clear understanding that when a Bill is put down for Second Reading, even though a Senator may have amendments, he is not expected to send them in when the Bill is only put down for Second Reading. He need not send in the amendments until the Committee Stage is fixed. If I had an amendment I would not send it in until that stage.


If there was such a rule we would have been compelled to break through it to-day, as the Bill we passed was down for the Second Stage only. Nevertheless, the Seanad thought it was in the public interest to put all the Stages through to-day. If that is not the view with regard to the Unemployment Insurance Bill, then, I think, the proper course is to confine ourselves to the Second Reading.

I think the matter is the reverse. Unless the Seanad expresses a wish to go on, it should not go on. That is in accordance with the Standing Orders.


That is exactly what I said.

The reverse.


At all events we will deal with the Second Stage now. The motion now is that the Bill be read a Second time.

As the Minister is here I want to ask a few questions. Where can we find set out the finances and figures affecting this whole matter? It has been my occupation during the last few days to study the Estimates and to try and disentangle a lot of complicated matters. I do not recollect seeing anywhere in the Estimates the effect of these various unemployment schemes. Where can we see, now, the precise financial effect of this whole problem, not only for the coming year, but for the past year? Will any accounts be presented to give such information?

I think it will be generally agreed that for its particular purpose, the Bill before the Seanad is a pretty satisfactory one. To my mind, one of the most welcome features of it is the proposal to terminate the present very complicated arrangements as to uncovenanted benefits, and the special period laid down in the Acts of 1921 and 1922. The proposed arrangements seem to be simple and equitable, and, after the 11th of October, they should enable the scheme to be worked on a genuine insurance or actuarial basis. The provisions in Section 3 should help somewhat to case the position of the unemployed during the coming winter, provided, of course, that there is a very great development in trade and trading conditions. In regard to Section 7, the Minister recognises the necessity of keeping in insurance soldiers who have not to their credit the prescribed number of subscriptions prior to the date of their joining the Army, but the provision is the mere minimum.

Under this Section, it would seem to me that a soldier on demobilisation would only be entitled to a maximum of about 6 weeks' benefit. One would imagine that, when the principle was recognised at all, it would have been recognised in a more generous and effective manner. This could only be done by paying the same number of subscriptions in respect of each soldier as would have been paid for him had he been an employed person, within the meaning of the principal Act, during the whole of the time that he was in the Army. The Section as it stands will leave each demobilised soldier in a very precarious and unenviable position, unless he is able to obtain employment very quickly. Of course, this question of finding work is the real crux of the whole position. The next twelve months will be an extremely critical period. The country has been considerably weakened and rendered anaemic by the struggle. Nothing short of a great revival of trade and acceleration of the industrial wheel will bring the country back to a healthy condition, and thus help to solve this terrible problem of unemployment. We have a very numerous Army of 50,000 men; we have 12,000 or 13,000 prisoners, and some thousands of additional unemployed, who are not shown on the registers. It is true that the Army has absorbed a very large section of the unemployed, and I think that must account for the improvement in the figures now, as compared with this time last year. In addition to that, the provision of Army contracts has given employment to a large number of work-people, who would otherwise have been unemployed, while the disbursement of army wages and separation allowances has tended to distribute a large amount of purchasing power which also went to reduce or prevent unemployment.

But this sort of thing cannot go on indefinitely; it is like the camel living on its own hump. It is an artificial prosperity which leaves, opium-like, aftereffects on the economic life of the country. It is true that in order to revive trade, we must have settled conditions and there must be a restoration of public confidence. I hope we are not too optimistic in believing that these conditions are obtainable in the near future. Recent events would lead one to hope that the reign of violence had come to an end. From this point of view, at all events, we may hope soon to reach what may be termed conditions of normality, but the restoration of public confidence is an urgent matter, and the Government can themselves give all their contributions in this direction. Now, here the main question of the Army arises. If it is seen that the Government finds it necessary to retain the services of 50,000 men under arms for a prolonged period, it will not be taken as a very good omen of the stability of the country or the establishment of settled conditions. Therefore, in my opinion, the sooner the question of demobilisation is considered, with comprehensive plans for absorbing at least some material proportion of the demobilised men, the sooner will public confidence tend to be revived. It is no reflection on the present Army to express the belief that 15,000 or 20,000 men, properly trained and disciplined, will be at least as effective as the present 50,000, who were hurriedly assembled and put in the field with very little training and with little or no discipline. We may reasonably look forward, in this direction at all events, to some act on the part of the Government that would tend to inspire confidence.

Another way in which unemployment might be relieved, to a certain extent. would be by the Government speeding up the arrangements for the hearing of claims for damage to destroyed property. There is an enormous amount of work to be done in this direction: sufficient to absorb for a considerable time a large number of building operatives and labourers, to say nothing of the employment that would be given in other directions connected with the supply of building materials. Then there is in many parts of the country the question of the arrears of rates. Many people normally employed by local authorities are now idle because the ratepayers have taken advantage of the prevailing conditions to withhold their rates. I think every encouragement should be given to the local authorities. They should be urged to use the whole of the machinery at their disposal, if necessary, to collect these outstanding rates. As the result of their being withheld, all progress is impeded, everything is held up, and the whole community is suffering very considerably. I believe that it is by the policy of prevention, rather than by any curative policy, that this great problem can be most effectively dealt with. It is a problem that threatens to become one of our greatest difficulties in the near future, and at a time, too, when the Nation is trying to recover, very slowly, from the staggering effects of the long war against the foreigner, and the still more ruinous war between armed forces in the Nation itself.

I should like to support Sir John Keane's application for information as to the cost of the Unemployment Act to the State, independent of the cost to the employers and the employees. It would be very well that we should know what the country at large has to pay, and whether the agricultural labourers and farmers have to subscribe by their taxes to give the dole to labourers in other parts of the country. I should also like to know whether this Bill adopts the provisions of the other Acts that have been passed previously in which it is provided that a man earning 3s. 4d. a day, or £1 per week, shall be considered as unemployed and qualified to receive the dole. I should like to know whether it is intended to repeal that Clause or retain it. There are also conditions as to the unemployed person looking for employment, one of which provides, which is very fair, that an unemployed person is not supposed to take work in a firm where there is a strike. That is very well. There is another Clause in the Act which this Bill is proposing to amend. It provides that where different sets of employees have disputes between themselves, and in no way concerned with the employer, that a man who refuses to accept employment in that firm is not to be debarred from receiving the dole. I should like to know from the Minister whether there is any intention to amend these extraordinary conditions in the existing Unemployment Act, and to let the country know how much it costs to carry on these schemes.

I think we are all agreed with what Senator O'Farrell has said, that the whole question of unemployment is one which deserves the serious consideration of every member of the community. The system of doles, that is what this insurance benefit amounts to, is very unsatisfactory, and I believe is felt so by every decent working man in the country. These men would much rather get work and honest wages for it than be unable to get work and to stand shivering in the cold outside the Exchange doors, for what, in the best of circumstances, is only a miserable pittance compared with their wages. Under the Bill, I believe it is contemplated that the average benefit would be about 20/- per week, and that would run for a period of 15 weeks. Of course, when a man has got nothing to live on it is something, but I am sure we all believe that if work could be found for that man which would give him a wage of £3 or £4 a week, that would be much more satisfactory. I understand a Reconstruction Commission has been already arranged by the Dáil, consisting of several members of the Dáil, with a view to investigating this unemployment problem, and submitting schemes for the possible employment of a certain number. What steps that Commission has taken I do not know, but if they could devise a scheme with reference to what Senator O'Farrell has said regarding demobilisation, if they could, in the meantime, before demobilisation is carried out, go into the question of making provision for work for those who are demobilised, it would have a very good effect in the settlement of this question. With regard to expense, I understand, from what was said in the Dáil, that the cost would be something about £250,000. I do not think that will come out of the Unemployment Fund, as that fund is considerably in debt, but I believe it will have to come out of the Central Fund. I believe the Minister said that the cost would amount to £250,000 a year, and that is a very serious sum when we are so much in debt. But there is one satisfactory feature, and that is, since the Bill was introduced in March, that the number of unemployed has dropped from 33,000 to about 29,000. That is a little drop in the ocean, but a reduction of 4,000 is something to be thankful for. I only hope that before the second year benefit arises that some bigger scheme may be devised for providing work for a large section of those who are now getting what is more or less in the nature of a charitable dole.

The suggestion was made to utilise members of the Army when demobilised for the purpose of reconstruction works, and to put them on to these works so that they would not come into direct conflict or competition with the present genuine unemployed. I think that is a very good suggestion indeed. It will be admitted that the whole trend of this unemployment relief as at present administered, and properly described as a dole, is demoralising. I think it destroys the self-respect of its recipients and undermines their morale. That is a very unfortunate thing for this country, considering the huge problems it has to face in the near future. The country is trying to get on its legs again, and it is up to every man and woman in the State, in order to pull the country out of its present plight, to put their shoulders to the wheel, and to give all that is in them in the interests of the State. There ought to be more of the feeling of the German workers amongst our people. See what the German workers are doing to-day to pull their Fatherland up, and they are not troubled by any personal scruples. They see the necessity of the country, and they have put their shoulders to the wheel and are trying to pull their country out as best they can. I think we would all like to see the workers here animated by the same spirit. I believe that spirit is in the Irish race, and that this demoralisation has been going on through causes for which the people of the country are not responsible. There is pluck and spirit in the Irish race, and love for their country, which will, at this juncture, dispose the workers to take suggestions from the State and to respond cheerfully to any appeal that the State may make to them. I know personally, and I am sure many members of the Seanad are aware, who are brought into daily contact with the workers, that this thing of the dole is irksome to many men. It has the essence and flavour of charity, and I think a good step would be made in more than one direction if instead of doling out this money, whatever the amount is to which they are entitled, some system of local or other works of a State character, such as drainage, road-making, and works of that kind, all of which are needed by the State could be organised, whereby workers at various points could be assembled, and by means of motor lorries brought to their work and brought back again at night. I think that works of that kind must be a little removed from the residences of many of the workers, and it would be uneconomic to ask these men to walk 3 or 4 or 5 miles to their work and walk the same distance back again. It would be more economic to provide a motor lorry to carry these men to their work and bring them home again to their wives and families. I believe, whatever relation that may bear to a fair standard wage, that 90 per cent of the workers to-day would prefer to give a return for the money in that way, if it were only for one or two or three days' work in the week. They would rather do that than, as has been suggested, stand at the corners shivering for the dole, which has also a further demoralising effect on them.

If any plan of that sort were enquired into by the Government I think it would go a very long way towards solving the unemployment problem, and give a very great fillip to the advancement of reconstruction works which the Government have had in view for a considerable time.

The whole tendency at the present moment is to displace labour from the land and increase unemployment. As has been proved by the Departmental figures, the fact is that no crop that can be grown now can be relied upon to be sold above the cost of production. The consequence is that land is going out of cultivation, and that being so, the army of the unemployed will be largely recruited from those employed on land. To go into what would be the remedy is too large a question. It is quite clear our present fiscal policy is not suited to the condition of the country, and until the Government finds some remedy, so as to make it profitable to till the land, I cannot see why such measures as are contemplated in connection with the division of the grass lands, will get you any nearer your object of finding employment. What does not pay an employer of agricultural labour will hardly pay the man who works for himself, unless he is prepared to take a far lower reward for his toil than when he would be employed by a larger farmer.

The Government are to be congratulated on the step forward that has been made by this Bill. The provisions of the Bill are a considerable improvement on the old Unemployment Act. Some Senators requested that the Minister in charge should tell us what the cost of Unemployment Insurance is to the State. When the Minister is replying I hope he will tell us what the cost is to the working class people who subscribe also for the Unemployment Insurance. Some people have a mistaken idea that the State contributes all the money paid in Unemployment Insurance. As a matter of fact the vast bulk of the money is contributed by the workers. Every person employed in what is known as an insurable occupation, comes under the head of Unemployment Insurance, and contributes a certain sum each week from his or her wages. The employer also contributes so much per head, but I venture to suggest that the worker pays the employer's share as well as his own, because the employer deducts the cost of insurance out of wages. I would ask any Senator who is an employer if he can contradict that statement. The actual cost of insurance paid by the employer is put down under the head of wages. In this way the vast bulk of the money is contributed by the workers. It is to the credit of the working classes in this country, many thousands of whom have not drawn a penny in Insurance, that they are willing to contribute for the support of their brothers and sisters who are out of employment. That is the position of Unemployment Insurance.

This question raises the very important issue, whether or not a man or woman has the right to work or to be maintained in this country. If they do not get the right to work, then the State has a duty cast upon it to maintain them. If a manufacturer, contractor or other employer of labour has a team of horses for which he has no work, he feeds those horses, and feeds them well. Therefore, if an employer has a team of work-people and he has no work for them, they also should be maintained. Charity was suggested. I suggest there is no charity. The people who get Unemployment Insurance provide by their own contributions against unemployment, just the same as a Senator who would insure his property against fire, burglary, etc., would, in the event of anything of the sort occurring, receive compensation. Any person contributing to Unemployment Insurance gets no charity. During the old regime in Ireland the manner in which the Unemployment Insurance Scheme was administered savoured greatly of charity. I am happy to be in a position to pay a compliment to the officials now working the scheme. There has been a decided improvement in the manner of its administration since the setting up of the Saorstát. I know something of Unemployment Insurance, because I had to deal with many cases. I had to appear before martinettes who were engaged administering the scheme in former years, and from their demeanour one would imagine they were dispensing charity, and that what they were paying out was their own.

There has been a decided improvement since we got the management of this matter to ourselves. Speaking quite candidly, and from a knowledge of the working classes, I may say that the people of Ireland do not want charity, and do not want doles. They want to be allowed to live the life that God ordained they should live, to give useful service to themselves and to their brother citizens. They want employment, but under existing conditions it is almost impossible to bring forward schemes to give employment. I hope the time is rapidly approaching when there will be no necessity for Unemployment Insurance. I hope to see the time when the good-will of all people in this country will be such that every man and woman able to work will be provided with work. I have no sympathy with those who are too lazy to work. Every man and woman can perform useful work for the community, and I hope the time will soon arrive when we will do away with doles for unemployment and otherwise, because there are people getting doles for other reasons than unemployment.

I thoroughly agree with the last speaker when he says that he does not believe that the working classes of Ireland are anxious to avail very largely of this dole system. They prefer not to do so, but owing to the unfortunate state of things and the conditions that have obtained they have been in many cases compelled to do so. I would like to remind the Seanad of the very graphic illustration which I might take from another country in Europe— Denmark, a keen competitor at the present day with this country, and with Great Britain. It is the country that was regarded as being down and out in the sixties of the last century, after being cruelly crushed by the German Empire and an important province taken from it. Instead of throwing up their hands in despair on that occasion, the capitalists and bankers in a very patriotic way, and especially the working classes, put their heads together and so co-operated, one with the other, that to-day Denmark, per head of population, is one of the richest countries in Europe. The gospel of patriotism and national endeavour was proclaimed throughout that little country. Electrical power stations were started, dairies were started and equipped in a manner that set an example to, and won the admiration of, the whole world. I believe that even the very piggeries were electrified, and in every channel of useful development the Danes set a splendid and patriotic example. I would like to remind my own countrymen at the present time what little Denmark did half a century ago. I believe that the working classes, as well as the capitalists are seemingly desirous that Ireland should prosper. I would like to suggest to them, especially to the men in my own neighbourhood in the South of Ireland that it is difficult for Munster, Leinster, Connaught or Ulster to compete with cross-channel firms, and Denmark, if the wages are based on a higher level than what is paid elsewhere. I am sure that we who are interested in the industries of one kind or another are most anxious to pay as much, at any rate, as is paid across channel. But I think it is unreasonable and unjust that it should be expected of us that wages and salaries should be based on a very much higher level than our friends and neighbours across the channel are paying at the present time. If we do co-operate, one with another, with the one desire that our country should prosper, then our country would be in a better way, and we ourselves would in time to come look back upon the era, difficult and awful as it has been, for the last few years, not with regret, but with satisfaction that we profited by these bitter experiences.

I would like to emphasise what has been said by the last speaker. As far as I can understand the Bill, it is not applicable to the rural labourer. That, at least, is my impression. If the industrialist class is to be largely added to in the country then I am afraid that this Unemployment Bill, being what Senator Farren describes as just, standing actuarial tests, will become largely charitable, and instead of costing £250,000, it will go into the neighbourhood of a million.

I personally have worked on the land all my life. There is hardly a detail on the farm that I do not know. I worked at everything from the plough to the threshing mill, and I can say with confidence that no operation on the land at the present moment is capable of giving a man a decent wage. I think it would be advisable for the country to go into the fiscal question and see whether means can be devised to keep the labourer on the land in Ireland at a wage which will justify his existence there, and make it a paying proposition. I have nothing but admiration for the labourers and for their loyalty to one another, which deserves the admiration of everyone. Their readiness to subscribe to unemployment funds and to do everything which a citizen ought to do for his neighbour, and which they do for one another is admirable. For that reason I welcome the attempt on the part of the Government to secure that the unemployed man should get sufficient to keep him from hunger when the occasion arises for the Unemployment Benefit. But I feel that the number of unemployed in Ireland will increase unless something is done, and done quickly, to relieve conditions on the land, and this unemployment will add largely to the difficulty in the country. I would like to see, as Senator Farren suggests, that a large portion of the unemployment money was paid by the employees themselves. Possibly in proportion to his ability the employee is paying a large proportion. But when you consider that £250,000 is to be expended, and that the employer has to pay a proportion of it, I do not agree with Senator Farren when he says it is paid out of wages, and that it does not partake in some form or another of charity. Charity is not to be despised; if a man wants it he must get it. It is one of the most ancient and best Christian principles to relieve your neighbour in distress, and the Government recognise this themselves. I have nothing but admiration for it, but in order to make it a success, in order to ensure that the burden of the State will not be greater, I feel it is incumbent on the Government to investigate thoroughly and sincerely the conditions of agriculture, and to secure that no men should be withdrawn from rural labour to swell the unemployed population in the towns.

With regard to the sums involved, a Vote, of course, to provide for unemployed benefits does appear in the Estimates; but there are some figures which I have immediately available, and which will probably interest Senator Sir John Keane. For the purpose of the present Bill a sum of £250,000 will be necessary. That sum will be necessary after allowing for all contributions from both employers and employees. That sum will still be necessary. Moreover, the Senator will be in terested to know that a sum of £550,000 is now owing from the Unemployment Fund to the Central Fund for advances made during the past few months. Of course he will appreciate, as I am sure the other Senators appreciate, that unemployment during the last 12 months has been altogether abnormal. Conditions existing in the country have been abnormal.

Could the Minister give us any figures as to the cost of administration?

Figures are set out in the Estimates dealing with the various Labour Exchanges. These figures, however, do not indicate the actual cost of administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, but I think the sum of £100,000 approximately would cover the expenditure in connection with Unemployment Benefit.

That is not included in the £250,000?

No, that is not included.

It is in addition to that?

Yes. Of course that £100,000 would not exactly apply to the period over which that £250,000 would be expended. The £100,000 would be an annual expenditure in connection with administration. Further, I might add, without suggesting who pays the major portion, the following figures may be of interest: employers' contribution is at the rate of 10d.; employees (male) 9d., and the State contributes 6¾d. About £35,000 per month is received in contributions from employers and employees. Dealing with the points raised by Senator O'Farrell, the Senator will remember that military occupation is not one of the insurable occupations in the principal Act, and in Section 7 of the Bill the endeavour was to ensure that soldiers on demobilisation would not labour under any disadvantage. We could not accept the insurance principle for military service, but we do want to ensure that men who have been in insurable occupations before joining the army will suffer no disadvantage on demobilisation. That is the intention in Section 7 of the Bill as it stands at present.

The cure for unemployment very obviously is not Unemployment Insurance, and I am glad to see that all sides of the Seanad fully recognise that in the present conditions, or in the conditions that have prevailed up to now, it would scarcely be possible to expect that work could be found for all those unemployed. I agree fully with Senators that before there can be public confidence—that public confidence which is necessary to invite capital to come readily into operation, to be invested in the country and, consequently to give employment—we must have ordered and peaceful conditions. The Government has recognised that, and the aim of the Government during the last twelve months has been to secure that those ordered and peaceful conditions should come about at as early a date as possible. I do hope, with Senators, that those ordered conditions now obtain and that very readily and very rapidly unemployment will decrease; that capital will take courage and will take labour into its confidence, and that both capital and labour will recognise that there is a patriotic duty which both parties can discharge and which they ought to discharge: after mutual conference to secure that every man and every woman who is willing to take the Saorstát to heart as his or her country will have no reason to complain of the means of living within the Saorstát.

As to the point raised by Senator Linehan, so far as I understand, the Senator said that a man earning 3/4d. per day, or £1 per week, was still entitled to benefit. What the Act does provide is that a man out of his normal employment is not disqualified from benefit if he has some occupation which does not yield him more than 3/4d. per day. As to trade disputes, the definition of a trade dispute under the Act has been the accepted definition for the past twelve years, and until this date no better definition has been found. There was one other point with which I might deal, that is the provision of public works. In the Bill, as originally introduced, we had a Section 7 which provided that in particular cases and for works of public utility the Minister might direct, with the assent of the workers, that instead of paying unemployment benefit to any particular sum per week, in case an employer had not been able to work economically, what would be paid to the men had he closed down should be paid to the employer if he were allowed to work on and make up the balance of the weekly wage to the men. That provision, however, did not commend itself to the Dáil, and we were not particularly enamoured of it in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, because we realised it would mean a considerable amount of extra work and considerable difficulty in determining what were works of public utility and ascertaining accurately when work could not be carried on economically. So that Section was omitted. It was an honest endeavour to try and do good to two parties. However, it did not commend itself to the Dáil, and the Section was withdrawn.

To try and hasten up the absorption of all the unemployed under proper schemes of work, a Commission on Reconstruction and Development has been set up to advise the Ministry on useful schemes of work. We await the report of that Commission, and the Government intends taking advantage of the report at the earliest possible moment. The Government has also decided to set up a Fiscal Inquiry to inquire into the industries of the country. The object of the inquiry, as Senators will remember, was stated in Dáil Eireann. It is hoped when both these reports are before the Government it will find itself in a position to give all possible aid to Irish industry and, consequently, to remove the necessity for the provision of a very large sum for unemployment benefit.

One final word about the dole. It is hardly correct to call this a dole. The present Bill does away with uncovenanted benefit and provides for the payment of covenanted benefit only. It is a return to covenanted benefit, based on the number of contributions from the persons who become unemployed. It is hardly correct, however, to call it a dole. Even with regard to the past few months it would be scarcely correct to call it a dole, as it is intended that all sums which have had to be borrowed from the Central Fund shall, at a later period, be paid back from the Unemployment Insurance Fund. I hope this is the last occasion on which large sums will have to be provided for Unemployment Insurance Benefit.

I would like to ask the Minister if agriculture is considered under the Bill as an insurable occupa tion; in other words whether agricultural labourers get any benefit?

Agricultural em ployment is not one that is considered insurable.

Motion made and question put: "That the Unemployment Insurance Bill, 1923, be read a Second Time."


Committee Stage ordered for Wednes day, 6th June.