Unemployment Assistance Bill, 1933—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Unemployment Assistance Bill embodies provisions designed to secure that assistance will be given to able-bodied workers who are involuntarily unemployed and, consequently, unable to provide for the maintenance of themselves or their families. This measure is one of a series of steps taken by the Government in order to deal with the unemployment situation existing in this country. The Government came into office with a mandate to deal with unemployment and, to that end, adopt any course, no matter how original or drastic, which might be required. When we acquired office in March of last year we were hampered by the considerable difficulty that no reliable information as to unemployment existed. For reasons not necessary to go into at this stage no attempt had been made prior to that to gauge the size of the problem or to procure information as to its nature, by which I mean classes of workers who were most affected by unemployment, their location, or other facts about them.

The Government took steps early in 1932 to establish a reliable register of the unemployed by various administrative measures. In the first place, facilities for registration were extended and, secondly, inducements to register were extended and, particularly, it was made conditional in respect of all work financed wholly or partly out of State funds that only persons registered as unemployed at employment exchanges could be considered. The result of these measures meant that we established for the first time in the Saorstát a register of all the persons in the country who were seeking employment, a register which, although it was unreliable and inaccurate in certain respects, nevertheless gave us an opportunity of examining the unemployment problem in detail. I say that the register was unreliable and inaccurate because, of course, it contained not merely the names of those in hardship because of unemployment but of all persons, no matter what their means, who were willing to take employment if offered to them. It was also inaccurate because of certain administrative breakdowns which occurred in consequence of the greatly increased pressure of work upon outlying parts of the industry and commerce organisation— a breakdown which was, however, very quickly rectified. When the information relating to unemployment had been secured and analysed a Committee of experts was established from the different Departments of State likely to be in a position to advise on the matter, to examine in detail proposals which, in broad principle, were similar to those now embodied in this Bill. That Committee met through last winter and reported to the Government. On receipt of its report the Government decided upon the outline of the measure now before the Seanad. The drafting of the Bill was then proceeded with and it was introduced in the Dáil at the end of the summer recess.

The Bill is, of course, one of major importance. It will bring about changes in the economic organisation of this country more than those which the Bill will directly effect. On that account, it deserves very careful consideration. It got careful consideration from the Government before introduction and it will, I am sure, get equally careful consideration from the members of this House. I give that account of the history of the measure in order to prevent, at the beginning of the discussion, any member of the Seanad from making the same mistake that other members of the Oireachtas appear to have made and which certain people, not yet in the Oireachtas, have also made.

It has been asserted that this Bill represents the failure of the Government policy to provide employment through industrial development or otherwise. I stated in the Dáil that, on the contrary, it represents the fulfilment of the Government's policy for dealing with unemployment. When the Dáil met after the General Election of February, 1932, one of the first matters discussed was a motion moved by a member of the former Cumann na nGaedheal Party asking the Dáil to accept the principle that the obligation rested upon the State to ensure that work or maintenance be provided for all those who were unable to provide for themselves. That motion was adopted unanimously by the Dáil and, in the discussion on it, the Government's policy was made clear. It was stated that our preference was to provide work, that we were proposing to carry out a certain industrial reorganisation which we expected would increase employment and, at the same time, that we were organising State schemes of work to deal with those who had to be provided for while industrialisation was taking place. We realised, however, and pointed out that no scheme for providing work which human wit could devise would be so elastic as to deal with the unemployment problem in every part of the country with equal fairness; in other words, that it was not possible to build up an organisation which would provide in each district the exact amount of employment required at the time it was required; that, consequently, it was necessary to have as a background to all our schemes for providing work some measure of this kind, the operation of which would ensure that while the organisation for provision of work was coming into effect, the hardship occasioned by involuntary unemployment would be alleviated. Once the principle of providing for those who are deprived of the opportunity of providing for themselves is accepted, the scheme of the Bill before the House must also be accepted. It is, I think, certain that any body of persons who accepted that principle and were given the task of devising a scheme for putting it into effect would produce a measure almost identical with that before the Seanad. If we were starting de novo, if we had in this country no measures for dealing with unemployment at all, a somewhat different scheme would be suggested. But, having regard to the fact that there is in existence an organisation, built up with great care, extending throughout the whole country and staffed by a highly trained personnel, for dealing with unemployment, it naturally follows that we must try to graft the new scheme on to the old organisation to get efficient and speedy operation.

The organisation to which I refer is that of the employment exchanges, through which the Unemployment Insurance Acts are administered. Members of the House are, I am sure, fully conversant with the general provisions of the unemployment insurance code and have some knowledge of the manner in which the employment exchanges work. These exchanges are situated at all the principal centres of employment and are surrounded by branch offices extending into the rural towns. These branch offices themselves maintain contact with the rural areas by a system of communication through the post office, so that even workers in remote parts of the country can, without trouble, register for employment and be notified where to present themselves when employment offers. These employment exchanges have, of course, a special function to perform, apart altogether from the matters concerning the Unemployment Insurance Acts which affect them. Their original function, when brought into existence, was to provide an easy means by which employers seeking workmen could be put into touch with workmen seeking work. To a large extent they are fulfilling that function. That is certainly the case for the last 12 months. For some time earlier than 1932 that particular function of the employment exchanges was falling into abeyance and, on the average, only about 15,000 or 16,000 persons were placed in employment through the exchanges in each year—1931, 1930 and earlier. In consequence of the changes effected by the present Government, that number increased last year to just 100,000. The figure will be almost as large for the present year. Through these exchanges the Unemployment Insurance Acts are administered.

These Acts provide for the payment of contributions in respect of persons in insurable employment by employers and employed in equal measure, with an additional contribution by the State in respect of all such persons for each week of employment. These payments go into the Unemployment Insurance Fund, from which insured workmen, when unemployed, become entitled to receive benefits at certain fixed rates. It is clear that these Acts do not adequately provide for our unemployment problem any more than they were found to provide for the unemployment problem of Great Britain, or the unemployment problem of other countries where similar schemes exist.

There are two very distinct limitations upon the operation of the Acts. In the first place, no worker can secure more benefit than one day for each week in which he had been in employment. A stamp was affixed to his unemployment insurance card for each week he had worked and in respect of that stamp he got a day's benefit when unemployed. The second limitation was that no matter how many stamps he had accumulated during his period of employment he could not receive benefit for more than 26 weeks in any one year. In order to secure efficiency of administration and to take full advantage of the training in a very intricate code which a number of officers of the Department of Industry and Commerce have acquired, we have designed this Bill so as to make the method of administration as similar as possible to that of the Unemployment Insurance Acts. We have provided that every worker who complies with certain conditions will be entitled to get, on demand, a qualification certificate. That qualification certificate can be secured by the worker at any time whether he is employed or unemployed and it corresponds to his insurance card under the existing Acts. When he is employed, the qualification certificate is in his possession, but when he wants to claim assistance under this measure he lodges his certificate with the appropriate exchange or branch exchange and, subject to conforming with certain other conditions, he becomes entitled to assistance.

The qualifications for securing a qualification certificate are set out in Section 10. There is the usual qualification that the person must be of Saorstát nationality and must be over 18 and under 70 years of age. The main qualification, however, is that contained in paragraph (c) of subsection (3) of that section, which provides that the means of the person must not exceed £52 per year, if the person is resident in a country borough or the borough of Dun Laoghaire, or £39 if he is resident elsewhere. There is, therefore, a means test. A person who is the owner of land or property or has any other means exceeding the amount set out is disqualified from receiving assistance. A person with means less than the maximum fixed there can only secure the scheduled rates of assistance less the amount of means which that person possesses, as calculated under this measure. There are other qualifications which we can discuss in more detail on the Committee Stage. My concern at the moment is merely to give you a general picture of the scheme of the measure.

A person, having secured his qualification certificate, holds that certificate until he becomes unemployed. If he has been engaged in an insurable occupation, an occupation insurable under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, he claims unemployment insurance benefit. A person cannot secure unemployment assistance while he is entitled to receive unemployment insurance benefit. Having secured unemployment insurance benefit for the period to which he is entitled to it, a person then makes a claim for unemployment assistance. If a person has not been engaged in insurable employment such as, for example, an agricultural labourer, he applies forthwith, on becoming unemployed, for unemployment assistance. At that stage he has to comply with certain other conditions which are set out in Section 15.

The main provision is that the person has been continuously unemployed for a period of six days. In order to protect the casual worker and to prevent any person who has lost his job refusing a day's work if offered to him, we provide for a qualification of the term "continuously unemployed" by defining it to mean any period of unemployment of not less than two days followed by two days' employment and a further two days of unemployment being regarded as a period of continuous unemployment. He must, however—and this is the principal condition—prove that he is capable of working. In other words, he must be physically fit for work. If he has lost employment through ill-health or any physical or mental infirmity, then he is not entitled to unemployment assistance. His claim for assistance to enable him to live must be directed to some other authority than the authorities administering this measure. This is designed to assist only those whose unemployment is involuntary, such as persons who are able to work but who are unable to obtain it. A man must show that he is genuinely seeking work but is unable to obtain suitable work, having regard to age, sex, physique, education, normal occupation, place of residence and family circumstances.

He must also comply with one condition of considerable importance. If he applies for assistance in an urban district, a county borough or the borough of Dun Laoghaire, he must prove that he has been resident in that urban district or county borough for not less than one year, or has had three months' employment there. The main reason for that provision is to prevent the measure operating so as to induce into the larger towns or cities unemployed persons from rural areas, an inducement which might be aggravated by this measure, having regard to the fact that a higher rate of assistance is payable in the towns and cities in contrast with rural areas.

In connection with that part of the Bill there is one other section of considerable importance to which I wish to draw attention. It is provided that the Minister may at any time make an order in respect to any part of the country or any class of persons, declaring a particular period of the year to be an employment period. When such an order is made no person in the area or of the class concerned will be entitled to receive unemployment assistance for that period. As Senators are no doubt aware, one of the main difficulties in the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Acts has been that of determining that certain classes of people are unemployed. A person who is a small landholder and takes work on roads or does other public works that are offered to him frequently claims unemployment benefit at the end of his period of road work and is disqualified from getting it. The insurance officer or the court of referees holds he is not unemployed. That person is usually very indignant and he writes to the local T.D., but it does not get him any further because at certain times of the year these small landholders must be regarded as being employed on their own land and therefore not unemployed and available for work, if offered. In order to prevent that difficulty arising in the administration of this measure, it is proposed to declare in respect of landholders and certain other classes of workers, possibly fishermen, and other classes of workers that cannot be enumerated at the moment, that certain periods of the year will be regarded for them as employment periods and while these periods exist they will not be entitled to unemployment assistance. In other parts of the year they will of course be entitled to unemployment assistance if they demonstrate to the satisfaction of the home assistance officer that they are unemployed and if they comply with the other conditions. The necessity for that provision is, I think, obvious. Not merely will it simplify the administration but it will also prevent the possibility of fraud and keep down the costs of the measure. There is no doubt, of course, that in certain cases the operation of a provision of that kind will mean hardship and injustice. An individual in a particular district may be affected by the order who should not be. In any general scheme of this kind it is necessary to operate on general rules regardless of the effect on individual cases. Then the individual must be carried by the board of assistance in the area if the members of the board consider that destitution is likely to result.

The next question that undoubtedly arises in relation to this Bill is the measure of assistance which it is proposed to give. The rates are set out in the Schedule to the Bill and I think most members of the Seanad will admit that they are not over-generous. They are, however, the most that we can afford to provide having regard to our present estimate of the number of persons likely to claim unemployment assistance.

The unemployment situation in this country is improving. It is improving to this extent that there are so far as our statistics show, a greater number of people employed now than previously. These statistics relate to persons who ordinarily follow insurable occupations. But as the majority of those who are ordinarily to be regarded as workers take these insurable occupations, if we are to regard the statistics as not being accurate in respect of the totals, they are fairly reliable in so far as they indicate the trends. They show that employment has been considerably increased during the past year. The figures to which I refer are the figures relating to the number of insurance stamps sold. There are also the figures relating to the number of insurance books exchanged during the year. The figures themselves do not give us a reliable index of the number of persons in employment, but they do give an indication of what is happening and they show a considerable increase in the number of persons employed.

You must bear in mind that within the past couple of years the population of our country has increased by 30,000 and is still increasing. Emigration has stopped and, in fact, it is now a case of our getting returning emigrants so that a much more rapid increase in the number of persons in employment is necessary now in order to deal with the position than would have been necessary, say, in 1929 or 1930. The number of persons unemployed, while undoubtedly less than at this time last year, is still very substantial. It is, of course, impossible to say with any certainty in respect of that number the proportion which would represent those who are definitely in urgent need of work in order to maintain life. A substantial number of them would be persons owning land and with pensions, persons owning small shops or being maintained by relatives or persons owning boats and having some other means of livelihood. These persons register at the exchanges because they are willing to take any work that offers, particularly public work on the roads and the like.

In determining in a scheme of this kind the amount of money we can afford to spend we must take a most conservative estimate in relation to the number of persons and the cost per head. No definite figure can be given. I told the Dáil when we were trying to estimate the cost of this scheme on the basis of our unemployment experience of last year, we had in that calculation 15 figures which were only estimates. Any of these might be grossly inaccurate. It was on the basis of a calculation of that kind that the figure was arrived at. In the first instance when we determined upon the scheme we had in mind a figure of £1,000,000 a year as a maximum payment and as the payment which we could afford. The scheme before the Dáil, while based on last year's experience, will cost more than that. In so far as the employment situation may improve or change or any changes in the nature of the unemployment problem may take place the cost will be diminished or otherwise.

Any increase over the year in the number of unemployed to the extent of 5,000 will increase the cost of the scheme by about £30,000. On that figure, therefore, you can estimate what is likely to be the position. On our estimate on the basis of last year's experience this scheme is going to cost more than £1,000,000. It is quite obvious that we cannot contemplate any increase in the rates of payment set out in the Schedule. When the depression is passed and the reorganisation of our own economic system has been completed and when the employment position here improves it may be possible to revise these figures and to put this scheme upon a somewhat different basis. That is a problem for the future. At present we must plan in the light of our existing knowledge. On that basis this Schedule was prepared.

The fact that I want to emphasise is that in 95 per cent. of the cases that are likely to be affected by this Bill the payment which will be made under it to unemployed persons will be very considerably in excess of what they are entitled to get from the home assistance authorities. In the majority of cases those who are likely to be benefited by this Bill may not be getting assistance from the home authorities at all. In other cases they are getting home assistance at rates varying from 5/- to 6/- or 7/- a week. There will of course be this difference that whereas a person gets home assistance at the absolute discretion of the board of assistance and only on establishing destitution to the satisfaction of the officer of the board, under this Bill when it becomes law a person will get unemployment assistance as a right. He is given a statutory right to it, a right of which he cannot be deprived by administrative action subject of course to the conditions laid down in the statute. He is as much entitled to that payment as any servant of the State is entitled to payment for services.

The manner in which it is proposed to finance the scheme is, I think, also fairly clear from the measure. In the first place, the Unemployment Insurance Bill, which is the next measure on the Order Paper, provides for an increase in the contributions in respect of people in employment under the Unemployment Insurance Acts. The rates of contributions from people under these Acts were reduced in 1931. In that year the debt which had accumulated on the Unemployment Insurance Fund was being rapidly liquidated because of the surplus income which had arisen since 1926 when payment of the extended benefits ceased. The rate of contribution was cut in 1931 and it was cut too fine. Those who were responsible for determining the amount by which the rate should be reduced erred to the extent that they overdid it and with the reduction of the contribution, the debt again began to accumulate and one of the first administrative acts that I undertook on becoming a Minister was to sanction the borrowing of money to make good the deficiency in that fund. Apart from that, however, the raising of the rate of contribution to the old level will bring in a sum probably slightly in excess of £250,000 a year and we propose to take from the Unemployment Insurance Fund that sum of £250,000 for the purpose of financing this scheme. Senators will understand that the raising of the rate which is propose by the Unemployment Insurance Bill merely restores it to the level which existed up to 1931, a level which is lower than the existing rate in Great Britain or Northern Ireland.

In addition to that quarter of a million pounds, it is proposed to levy on the four county boroughs and the borough of Dún Laoghaire, a rate of 1/6 in the £, on the towns other than the county boroughs and Dún Laoghaire, the population of which at the latest census exceeds 7,000, a rate of 9d. in the £, and nothing on the rest of the country. The total amount which will come in from these two rates will be, roughly speaking, £200,000. That gives us a sum of £450,000 or perhaps a little more and the balance it is proposed to make up from the Exchequer. The balance would, of course, be a variable sum fluctuating from year to year with the total amount paid out. It is hoped that when normal conditions have been restored in the country, the scheme will be able to finance itself with little or no contribution from the Exchequer but I have no doubt that if we ever get to that stage it will be deemed more advisable to recast this system of unemployment assistance so as to link it up with other forms of State insurance. These are the main provisions of the measure. There are certain other matters which aroused some discussion in the Dáil and appeared to have caused some controversy elsewhere but they are not really matters of principle and can be discussed more properly in Committee.

The Bill itself is one which, I think, should commend itself to everybody because it provides for the stopping of a very definite gap in our various schemes for the relief of distress in the country. We have provided for destitution and hardship occasioned by old age, blindness or infirmity. Up to the present, we have not adequately provided for destitution or hardship occasioned by involuntary unemployment. That is, I think, due to the fact that it was not until post-war years that unemployment in its present form made itself apparent. It is true that there always has been a large number unemployed but those persons were not unemployed for long periods at a time. They were in work and out of work in varying periods. It is only since the war that in this country and in other countries we have had the phenomenon of persons being unemployed through no fault of their own for years at a time. These persons are in all cases able to work and genuinely and anxiously seeking work but because of the defects in our social organisation, for which the whole community must accept the blame, they have been unable to obtain work.

It is quite clear that if the State takes the line that it is going to entrust its resources in land and its instruments for working the land to a limited number of private owners and its resources in industrial equipment and technical skill to a limited number of private owners and these groups of private owners between them cannot find work for everybody seeking work, then the State must step in to prevent hardship arising, if we are determined to continue making work a condition of livelihood. At the present time, we say to our people that in order to live they must work. We have not contemplated the possibility of people, that is, the broad mass of the people, living without work. So long, therefore, as we take that attitude, there is on us an obligation either to provide work or if we are unable to do that, to ensure that hardship will not follow on our own inability to do so.

This Bill is a step in that direction. I grant you it is not a complete step. It is undoubtedly open to criticism on the ground of its inadequacy, but the only answer that can be made to criticism of that kind is to point to the figures available at the present time to support a measure of this kind. If the financial position should improve, the measure can be improved but not otherwise. In so far, however, as the principle is sound and as an effective scheme of bringing that principle into operation is enshrined in this Bill, I am sure it will get here, as it got in the Dáil, the unanimous support of all Parties.

I am sure all the members of this House will agree to pass this Bill without any opposing. The Bill is a lamentable necessity and we all regret very much indeed that the conditions of the country should be such as to make a Bill of this kind necessary, especially as we have to go back less than two years to remember hearing from every platform in the country, from every cross-road in the country and from every chapel gate in the country that as soon as a Fianna Fáil Government came into power 86,041—down to the one—people would be immediately employed.

80,000; not 86,000.

The figures have varied but I have mine from the Dáil Reports and various newspapers. We were told at the time that the number of people to be employed immediately was 86,041. I do not know how the 41, or even the one, were estimated, but that was the estimate.

The one was all right.

The one was all right perhaps but the 86,000 were not all right as this Bill proves. Now we have from the Minister a confession of despair and failure which none of his eloquence can cloak and I may say none of his nerve can cloak because he has considerable nerve to come here and give us the figures he gave us to-day to prove that this Bill is not the result of his policy. I must say that I admire his courage and I compliment him on the admirable way he handles the situation and tries to cover up the tracks of his own failure. I have some figures here. In October, 1931, the number of unemployed was 23,427 and in October, 1932, the number was 40,132. In my own county with which I am familiar, the number of unemployed in 1931 was 429 and it is now 820. I can judge by the figures in respect of my own county how far the Minister's argument about registration and all that goes because anybody can see that far greater numbers are unemployed. Take the foundries in the town of Wexford and take the number of rural workers unemployed. We can see those figures but, as a matter of fact, we do not need any figures. More than that, almost in the last three weeks, the official figure gives the numbers of unemployed on September 25th, 1933, as 58,937; and on October 9th, as 64,866, an increase of 5,929 so that the increase in unemployment is going on very rapidly.

That was within the last three weeks. However I am not going to oppose the Bill. People cannot be allowed to starve, and nobody here, as far as I know, is going to say a word against providing people who are involuntarily unemployed with sufficient to keep body and soul together. I shall have to refer at this stage to statements made with regard to agricultural labourers, from time to time, by Minister and echoed by Government satellites in the last week. Deputy Norton has stated that for the past 18 months a deliberate policy of victimisation has been carried on by the big ranchers because members— that is of the Labour Party—had put out of office the Party which the big ranchers had supported. I think that is not correct. What Deputy Norton meant to say was that the big ranchers carried on a policy of victimisation in order to be avenged upon the labouring people, or that the Government in order to put about a false idea——

On a point of order, I wish to ask is a member of this House entitled to suggest what another person intended to say when making a quotation from his speech. I want that cleared up. I do not think that Senator Miss Browne, or anybody else, is entitled to suggest what Deputy Norton intended to say.

The quotation is:—"For the past 18 months a deliberate policy of victimisation has been carried on by the big ranchers because the members had put out of office the Party which the big ranchers had supported. Labour would see that all that would be stopped and that people would be entitled to vote according to their consciences." That statement is a mean, lying statement, no matter who made it. There is not the slightest foundation for the statement that anyone put out of employment any person because he did not vote according to the way that other person wished. I wish to repudiate that, and deny it. That statement has been made by Ministers over and over again and the quotation I have given is the last echo of it now. No man has been put out of employment for any such reason by any farmer or employer on any kind of farm——

How do you know?

I know perfectly well because I know the people against whom this accusation is made.

You know nothing about it.

I know no man lost his employment because he did not vote the way his employer wished him to vote. It shows how much at a loss for argument people are who make such accusations. One of the saddest things that comes to one's mind about this is that certain small farmers who formerly held up their heads in the days when they were independent can no longer do so. Independence is a greater thing than freedom or anything else. It is the finest thing in the world anyone can possess, but because of the policy of the present Government these small farmers are turned into paupers and they will be eligible now for unemployment benefit under this Bill. That is to my mind the saddest thing about it all. Under ordinary conditions numbers of people would be unemployed, but that feature in regard to small farmers never occurred in this country before. It is the outcome of the deliberate policy of the Government. The Government has proved that the one flourishing industry in this country is the manufacture of paupers. A great deal of the Government's failure has come about from its agricultural and tariff policy, which has contributed very greatly to unemployment. We have had various Acts passed by this Government. We had a great outcry when the Cereals Act came up. A greater failure could not be thought of. A great number of people will have to be left unemployed by the farmers who were foolish enough to walk into the trap provided by the Cereals Act. A number of farmers have become paupers this year through it. We have had an outcry about the wonderful benefits and the great employment the beet factories are about to give. A great deal of what has been said is deception. The people have been deceived.

May I ask Senator Miss Browne if she has read the present Bill?

I am dealing with the Bill in a general way, as one is entitled to do on Second Reading. There are various aspects of it that will be dealt with on the Committee Stage. It is being represented that great relief is going to be given to local rates. The Minister did not touch upon that. In reality neither the unemployed nor the local councils are going to get any appreciable benefit from this Bill. Everyone knows that. It is one of those measures that may catch votes from the unwary. That is its principal object. However, so far as it goes, and so far as it will relieve the destitution which is coming about in the country, and the misery that is being developed, I welcome it, and am prepared to vote for it. No human being with any heart or feeling could refuse to give to the starving and the destitute.

There is one point that I am not sure about: whether a person in receipt of home assistance is eligible under this Bill. Perhaps the Minister would enlighten us upon that. I want to know from the Minister is a person in receipt of home assistance going to receive unemployment benefit under this Bill—I do not mean a man whose wife or children have been in receipt of home assistance. I would like to have that point made clear. There is also the question of Section 2 and the rate of 1/6 in the towns. The councils in these towns will have large numbers of new houses which are not rated. How will the money be made up—the 1/6 on these buildings? They are not rateable property. I should like the Minister to reply on that point because it seems a defect in the Bill.

There is nothing more that I can say except that I regret very much the necessity for such a Bill. However, when the people have got what they asked for, what they voted for, I suppose they cannot complain. I hope that the Minister's final statement, that the necessity for giving unemployment benefit will pass away, and his hope that when the Government's policy of economic national self-sufficiency will be put into full force, the unemployed will melt away as snow under the sun, will not meet the same fate as the promises in regard to the 86,041.

I had not intended to speak on the Bill at all but I am afraid Senator Miss Browne has forced me to defend a colleague from the attacks that have been made upon him by Senator Miss Browne. I think it is a great pity that when we are discussing measures of such great importance as this, measures that contain such a big principle as this bill contains, they would not be debated on their merits, without all these Party cries that we are continually hearing from Senator Miss Browne. Senator Miss Browne by the way did not refer to the Bill at all. She referred in the first place to what she thought Deputy Norton intended to say.

On a point of explanation, I wanted to read out the words of Deputy Norton as they were reported but I could not very well see them at first. I read them afterwards. I have the report here and the Senator can read them to see if I distorted the statement in any way. It has been said over and over again.

I want to say that that particular statement read by Senator Miss Browne is correct.

I can deny it.

It can be proved to be correct. We have the extraordinary spectacle of Senator Miss Browne getting up and saying that nobody ever sacked any of these men. How does she know? She can speak for herself but she does not speak for the aristocrats of Kildare. If Senator Miss Browne wants proof it can be produced. Further than that we can show that certain employees were brought before their employers and told what was likely to happen if they voted a certain way.

How can that be proved if the ballot is really secret?

I can tell you there was intimidation. I am not raising the matter at all. Senator Miss Browne alleged that the statement made was not true. She is not entitled to say that without bringing in proof to that effect. She is not entitled to say that she knows what every employer in Ireland did. If she wants proof, it can be proved. This particular measure sets up for the first time in this State a principle that we have been clamouring for for many years—the right of the individual to work or the right to be maintained, if he is able and willing to work and cannot get work. That is the principle that is involved in the Bill. I must say that I am very pleased that the Government have for the first time introduced a measure that brings that principle into operation. Senator Miss Browne sometimes tells us about all the wonderful things the late Government, the Government that she supported, did. We were clamouring incessantly for years to the late Administration to do something on these lines and it did not do it. Up to the year 1929 in the City of Dublin, with its huge army of unemployed, there was no provision for assistance for genuinely unemployed persons at all. In the country areas from 1924 the local authorities were entitled to give home assistance to able-bodied persons but in Dublin until 1929 there was no Act under which the local authorities could give home assistance to able-bodied persons no matter how destitute they might be.

This measure, as the Minister has said, proposes that where people are able and willing to work and where they cannot find employment and have not sufficient means to maintain themselves, the State steps in to see that they get some measure of assistance. Our only regret is that the amounts of assistance that are being given under the Schedule of this Bill, are not what should be given. The Minister says that the amounts of assistance to be given are as much as the State at this stage of its economic development can afford to risk. I agree with the principle of the Bill but I do not agree that the amounts set out in the Schedule are nearly adequate to meet the position. Notwithstanding that, I am prepared to support the Bill in all its stages because it enshrines a principle that every Christian man and woman must support—that every man and woman in this country has the God-given right to get employment if they are able and willing to take it and that if they are not able to get it, the State is bound to do something to maintain them in some decency. There are various matters that may arise on the Committee Stage of the Bill that need not be dealt with at this stage. What we have to consider to-day is the principle involved in the Bill and I certainly wholeheartedly support that principle.

I have not very much to say against the Bill. In case the Minister might think that I am too nice for a start off I suppose I had better say that the Government promised us work and that now they are starting to dish out the dole. As I was ill for the last week I did not get time to study the Bill, but there is one clause in it concerning the City of Dublin to which I should like to draw attention. That is, I think, Section 26. The people of the old City of Dublin, under Acts that have been passed for many years, have suffered more than the people of other localities. Generally speaking, the other people got the plums and we have now arrived at the time when the old City of Dublin can only be compared to a sucked orange.

The old City of Dublin for years had been supplying water to Bray, Dún Laoghaire, Greystones and Pembroke at much less than it was costing the citizens here. Amalgamation came along and, in order to coax these people into Greater Dublin, they had to get special terms. Their rates cannot be increased for a number of years. The old City of Dublin must make up the deficiency. This applies, of course, to Greater Dublin, Dún Laoghaire and other boroughs. New houses have been built, as was referred to by Senator Miss Browne. Some of these houses are free from rates for a number of years—five years, I think, and some of them are on a sliding scale for 20 years. That is the reason I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to the word "rateable" in Section 26, line 25. It is an innocent looking word, but I should like to know if this 1/6 in the £ would apply to people who are free of rates or to people who are paying rates on a sliding scale. In other words, will there be another injustice done to the poor unfortunate citizens of Dublin who have been mulcted right through? Will they have to make up that £7,000 or £8,000 deficiency and, instead of paying 1/6 in the £, will they have to pay 1/9 or 2/- in order to make up for the people living in the new houses and those business premises—I know it applied to the 1916 buildings and I suppose it applies to the 1922 buildings—which are rated on the old valuation for a certain number of years and which naturally is much smaller than the new valuation? There is, of course, in present circumstances a necessity for this Bill, but I think every person should be made pay his reasonable share of it. Of course, this matter could be raised better on the Committee Stage and I intend to put down an amendment in connection with it but, as I object to it, it is just as well to mention it on this stage. The rate should be spread evenly over all the people. This is a case where it is everybody's duty to come to the assistance of these poor unfortunate people who have no employment. We cannot let them starve; we must feed them; but the expenditure should be spread out fairly.

I also want to ask the Minister as to the incidence of this 1/6 to which Senator Staines has referred. I did not gather from the Minister how much was eventually to come out of the pockets of the State and I am not clear either as to what Senator Staines has been referring to. At present in the City of Dublin we are paying a rate of, I think, 1/6 in the £ and about that sum is also being paid in some of the urban districts. Is it that the amount that is to be paid over by Dublin to this new fund is the amount of the rate that is at present being paid and that there is not going to be an increased rate because of this Bill; that the 1/6 rate now being paid when collected will be handed over to the Minister instead of to the authorities in Dublin or in the urban districts to spend themselves? If that is so, then there will be no increase on the ratepayers because of this Bill as we are at present paying that 1/6. It is easy to see how the national insurance contribution comes in. That £250,000 is to be got by an increase in the rates of contribution. Does that mean that £450,000, £250,000 from the Insurance Fund and £200,000 from the 1/6 rate, will now go into this fund and that the balance of about £550,000 is to come out of State funds? Am I to conclude that the 1/6 rate does not represent an increase in the rates; that the national insurance contribution does represent an increase in the rates of contribution to the extent of £250,000, and that the balance of the money will be found out of the Exchequer to the extent of something between £500,000 and £600,000?

I am not going to enlarge on the basic principles involved in this legislation. I think that psychologically they are quite unsound, but I realise that we have to move with the times and do the best to put on the brake in some practical manner. I am one of the old school who still believes that necessity is to a great extent an incentive to work and that if you destroy necessity you let in other factors; you encourage people to get benefits as easily as they can to the sacrifice of effort and production. I feel that a measure of this kind very largely strikes at the root of character; weakens and enfeebles character; but still, there it is. We know it is the policy of the Government; it has got to go on.

I also wish to place before the House very briefly another aspect, and that is the effect on the moral responsibility of employers. At present employers, although some people may doubt it, have a distinct moral responsibility to employ more people than they would sometimes like to employ. I know personally from resident owners in the country that they say, "I am hard up; I would much rather spend this money giving my children opportunities, but I do not like to see people destitute and so I have to keep more people in employment." That is a practical, social quality to encourage. I think it will be largely undermined by this measure. I can see large numbers of employers now saying: "I no longer feel that moral obligation. These people will not be kept in affluence by any means, but they will be saved from destitution by the State. To that extent I can live a more selfish life." That is thoroughly bad. It is a big psychological aspect of the whole problem which I think should be regarded and should to a certain extent act as a caution to put a brake against the extension of the principle in this measure.

Of course, there are other matters which we shall not go into now; they will arise in Committee. I hope the Minister has examined all the loopholes that are implicit in a measure of this kind, all the possible evasions and all the possible abuses. I should like the Minister to say whether he has ever visualised the position where, say, three or four able-bodied sons of a farmer will be qualified for assistance under this measure—perhaps quite a substantial sum will be going into a small farmer's house—and the effect that may have on production; the effect it may have on the effort of people to support themselves and, indirectly, of course, on their whole character and their whole social life. In that direction there may be great abuses. You might have a comparatively large proportion of State income going into a household. I do not know if the Minister has considered whether the household test may be further strengthened. It is referred to in one section only. The Minister has power to alter the means by order and that seems to be most dangerous.

Under Section 10 (3) (c) one of the conditions for a qualification certificate is that the applicant's means do not exceed £52 in a county borough or the borough of Dun Laoghaire and £39 elsewhere "or such greater or lesser amount as shall for the time being be prescribed." So that it is entirely within the Minister's power to alter that amount and to impose indirectly a very large measure of taxation on the country. If you reduce the means from £52 to, say, £26, obviously a much larger number would become qualified and the burden would be pro tanto increased. This Bill got very scant discussion in the Dáil. That, I think, is explained by the fact that it would be bad politics for either side to oppose this measure, which involves a lot of votes, and no popularly-elected person would care to be too critical of it; but a special responsibility rests on this House, the members of which are not directly dependent on the franchise of the people to examine it with much greater care. In view of that I propose to ask the House, at the appropriate stage, to have this Bill referred to a select committee for examination. In proposing that I think we should all agree that the committee would report back within a reasonable time and that the enquiry should not drag on for a long period. I think everyone will agree that there are a number of very technical and complicated provisions in the Bill, and that an examination of it by a select committee would be of very great value.

The Bill has been generally approved. I am going to add my voice to the approval of the Minister's act in introducing such a Bill, because of the embodiment in it of the principle to which Senator Farren has referred. It is accepting a very definite and clear responsibility, on the part of the State, for the principle of maintenance of the unemployed able-bodied person, and it is an indication that he should not be left to the poor law code for assistance. There is another important feature of the Bill, and it is that it departs from the British and Northern Ireland precedent by extending assistance to non-insured persons, agricultural labourers, domestic servants and such like. But, having said that, I am afraid there is a good deal in the Bill, particularly in regard to the rate of assistance, that deserves dissent and protest. I agree that it is a gesture of good faith. It is rather more than a gesture, because there is a certain substantial financial backing to the gesture.

I am very glad that the Minister, when speaking in this House, did not say what was said in the other House that the effect of the Bill would be to relieve the local rates. Now I am afraid that will be the effect of it and I would rather it were not. I will explain what I mean. The amount of assistance that is given under the Bill is substantial. It is higher, in the main, as the Minister has pointed out, than the amount of home assistance that is being given in all parts of the country, with the exception, perhaps, of Dublin and possibly Cork City. But the amount of assistance that is being given in the country is lamentably deficient and utterly inadequate. It is practically inviting people to continue to exist, to help to starve their children and themselves and, generally, to get into a state of low physical disability to work when work is offered. Some of the complaints that one hears of are due to that very fact: physical inability because of long-continued underfeeding and undernourishment. The Bill goes some way to help the man with a family, but when we think of a man with a wife and two children, expected in all parts of the country outside the larger urban areas, to live on 11/- a week, well, that is quite inadequate. Therefore, I hope that local assistance will continue in addition to the assistance that is to be given under this Bill.

I hope that some day the Ministry will decide to institute a scientific inquiry on a physiological basis, leaving out the question of cost altogether, on the variety of food and the quantity of food that is required to maintain a family, and having ascertained that then to look into the question of cost. This is being done by numerous bodies, semi-official and entirely unofficial, and there is a certain unanimity about their reports. Those inquiries have been held in different parts of England and Scotland. I hope the Minister will institute such an inquiry in this country. I believe it is only by an ascertainment of that kind that you are going to get the basis for the financing of such a measure as this. There is almost universal medical testimony that a growing child ought to have not less than one point of milk per day. If you take a pint of milk per day per child and relate it to the figures in this Bill, you will see how utterly inadequate for healthy maintenance even this contribution is, leaving out of account entirely the home assistance that is being given in the counties. I hope, at least, that the local authorities when they feel themselves relieved somewhat by the operation of this Bill will say: "We will at least add to our contribution towards the cost of supplying milk for young children."

The Bill, as I have said, and echoing what others have said, does accept a new responsibility and that is a very big move forward. The question of adequacy, which the Minister has hinted at, will have to be considered at some later stage when the economic factors are more favourable, but it ought not to go out that this is by any means an acceptable contribution to what is required by healthy men and women to maintain them and keep them in health.

Senator Miss Browne and others have followed the lead of their colleagues in the other House in supporting the Bill and, strange as it may seem, in doing so they have committed themselves to what their leader has told us was "tending directly towards Communism." I am sorry Senator Miss Browne is not here because she is so consistently opposed to anything that she imagines tends towards what she calls Communism that she ought at least to take to heart what her leader has declared in respect to this Bill.

Pauperism, she said.

Communism, her leader said. General O'Duffy, speaking at Sligo on this Bill, said: "Obviously the object of the Government is to get people into their grip with doles and that was tending towards Communism." Notwithstanding the leader's condemnation, or implied condemnation, in that way, all the Parties who follow him have declared their support of the Bill. That is interesting.

Are you sorry?

I am amused. There are a number of details in the Bill that I would like to have examined. I almost think it desirable that the Minister should get some hints of these points, so that he could examine them before the Committee Stage, as it would be difficult perhaps for a layman who has no technical assistance to draft amendments. One point was raised by Senator Staines, about what, in effect, is the immunisation of Rathmines and Pembroke from any charge in connection with the rate of 1/6 that was mentioned. There are questions regarding disqualification which are more or less matters of detail.

I would like to have from the Minister some justification for the rate to be paid by local authorities in urban areas, meaning urban districts outside county boroughs, and Dun laoghaire, which have a population of 7,000 or over. Fixing 7,000 seems to me, inevitably, to lead to a great deal of trouble later, because that brings in two or three towns for which I cannot think of any reason that would justify their inclusion, while excluding other towns that are not worse off. Take a town like Athlone. Why should Athlone be required to pay £550 when towns not quite as large, but of a similar character, are entirely exempt? I am curious to know the principle that fixed upon the figure of 7,000. I can understand the position of larger towns, such as Dundalk and Drogheda, where it may be said there is an industrial population that have a larger proportion of people calling for home assistance or unemployment assistance. I could understand a case being made on that score, but I cannot understand it with respect to some other towns. I would like to have from the Minister some clue as to the reason why he arrived at a figure of 7,000— was it merely on the population basis, without any other factor intervening?

There is then a question which, perhaps, the Minister would be able to answer, as to whether it is contemplated deliberately that persons will be eligible for the receipt of benefit under this scheme who are citizens or Nationals of the Free State, but who have given their labour, say, in Northern Ireland or in England, and who come over to reside here? They are immediately eligible, supposing they do not reside in the larger towns. Is there any reciprocal arrangement with the Free State on that basis? As far as I can see, there is nothing to debar an agricultural labourer or a domestic servant who have given their services to employers for a certain period of years in Northern Ireland, on being disemployed, coming over to live in the Free State, and immediately drawing benefit, provided they do not live in one of the larger towns. There may be some reciprocal arrangement. I would like to know if that is correct.

The feature of this Bill which distinguishes it from related Bills in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, apart from the extension of the classes of persons eligible for assistance, is that it is not an extension of insurance, and has only an indirect relationship to the insurance system. Because it has no relation to the insurance system, I presume we are faced with the fact that there is no possibility—or barely a possibility—of the assistance given under this Bill reaching the amount of assistance given under unemployment insurance, in the manner in which it operates in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. There is a distinct and definite reduction in the amount of income that will go to a family man running out of insurance. I take the view that as the man's labour is offered the liability is on someone else if he is not engaged. The Minister, inferentially, at least, accepts that position. I do not think we are fulfilling the obligations which acceptance of that principle involves to anything like an adequate extent by the scheme of this Bill.

On the question of adequacy I draw the Minister's attention to facts that appear in the report recently issued by the Department of Local Government and Public Health for 1931-32, regarding the cost of school meals. Notwithstanding the fact that they can purchase materials at wholesale prices, either by contract or through the Central Purchasing Board, the cost of the materials alone amounted to 1.15d. over the whole country for all kinds of school meals. In many cases the meal consisted of cocoa, or milk, and a piece of bread and butter. At that rate alone, and on that method of calculation, a child's food for a week for three meals a day would cost 2/-. We are assuming in this scheme that a man, his wife and children, have lived through a period of unemployment insurance. That kind of person is left with less than unemployment insurance benefit, having been living meanly and inadequately, from the point of physical sustenance, and he is expected to feed his children on less than the cost of the wholesale price of school meals, where the materials alone cost 2/- weekly. We are bound to look at that fact. While £1,000,000 is a lot of money, and hard to afford, nevertheless it seems to me to be an obligation on the community to provide a more adequate standard of life than those figures will allow.

Senator Miss Browne and others, following the lead of the Party in the other House, talked as if the need for a Bill of this kind only arose during the last two years. I can bear a good deal of Party controversy and I enjoy the kind of sword-play that Party controversy often involves and which does not mean so very much. It is really play, but that kind of statement is so utterly false and distant from any relation to fact that it is a pity that responsible people should give vent to it. Senator Miss Browne herself should know that General Mulcahy called for a figure such as this, that in 1931 the number of able-bodied persons in receipt of home assistance was 5,408 in one week. Whether that has been increased or not does not matter, but in the last week of July, 1931, there were that many persons receiving home assistance —able-bodied men. Surely, that itself is a proof that there was need for a Bill of this kind and it is utterly nonsensical and quite unreasonable controversy to speak of this Bill as only being called for because there was an increase, as alleged, in the number of unemployed owing supposedly to the policy of the Government.

Senator Sir John Keane makes the kind of statement that I wish he would look into before he makes it. According to the Senator the employer will be induced, perhaps, because of the operation of such a Bill as this, to say: "I can lead a more selfish life." He can dispose of the services of his men and decline to pay them any longer. The effect of a statement of that kind seems to me to be that his less selfish life is only possible because he has a number of men that he is saving from the workhouse and that there is a large number of men outside not being saved from the workhouse and that it is necessary to have a large number of unemployed men half hungry or wholly hungry so that he can lead a less selfish life. The logic of it is lamentable, but I would also like to remind the Senator that if the ideal of union with Great Britain had been maintained, or the policy of union with Great Britain, the cost of maintenance of unemployed persons would have been on a much higher level than it is even under this Bill. We would have been paying unemployed persons under this Bill as much, in at least 50 per cent. of the cases, under the extension of unemployment insurance, as they would be getting under the Insurance, which means that a family of a man and his wife and four or five children would be receiving 33/- or 34/- per week. The Union would have involved Senator Sir John Keane in that awful state of social depravity! I think the Senator should adjust his thoughts and look at what we have been saved from as a result of the abandonment of the Union. We have been saved from this moral depravity of paying unemployed men 30/-, or 35/- a week which we would have had to pay if we had maintained the Union.

I had not intended to speak on this stage of the Bill but some of the remarks made by senator Johnson seem to me to be so extraordinarily crude and so entirely oblivious of economic considerations that I think some reference ought to be made to them. I do not think they ought to be allowed to pass as if everybody in the House agreed with them. Unemployment, of course, is a dreadful thing. Any proper man ought to feel unhappy when he is unemployed, as a great many of them do; and when it reaches the stage of children being unfed it is dreadful; but to think that the way to attack the problem is to see that nobody should be unfed is to lead the country into bankruptcy. In the long run you can only finance unemployment assistance of this kind out of wealth or, in other words, out of production. In so far as your maintenance policy tends to undermine production, which it may very easily do if it goes too far, you are undermining the whole body politic, and eventually it leads to the misery of everybody. Senator Johnson said that he hopes the ratepayers will not be relieved. That seems to me to be a most extraordinary remark. I am quite certain that if he were in the position of a great many of the ratepayers in this country he would not make that statement, because he would know better. How does he suppose that the class of ratepayer, whom I have in mind—the agricultural land ratepayer—who is losing money on his farming and losing money to a considerable extent, I think, through the policy of the Party which Senator Johnson supports—how does he suppose that class of ratepayer will be able to pay? Anyhow, there it is. Large numbers of farmers are losing money. How are they to pay the rates which would be required to maintain the standard of unemployment assistance equal to what Senator Johnson or to what I dare say a great many others of us would like people to have? Of course he cannot pay it unless he pays it out of money in the bank or some other money, and eventually he will not be able to pay it. I think it is a wrong thing that anybody in this House should look at things from that point of view—simply that you have got to set a standard and pay it somehow or other. In the long run that policy would bring any State to ruin.

The idea of work or maintenance is not a new one. It is not an ideal of this Government or of any recent Government. It is more than a hundred years old and it has been tried over and over again, but has always broken down and must break down in the end. I had not intended to criticise this Bill in a wholesale way and I do not propose to do so now. I am not qualified to do it, but I think that to discuss the thing on the lines that you are first of all to set a standard of maintenance and have no regard to ways and means is harmful. You must consider ways and means. If you ignore ways and means you will be "broke" as a Government in the long run, which will involve the misery of everyone.

There is one matter which I would like the Minister to throw some light on. I followed what he said with reference to the small landowner who does not own enough land to keep himself and his family and who has habitually to work for wages during some portion of the year. I understand that he is a person who would be qualified for a certificate. What is troubling me very much is the case of the farmer's son who lives on the farm and who does not at any time of the year work habitually outside the farm for wages. Would he be qualified for a certificate under Section 10? If so, that would open an immense addition to the persons who might qualify under this Bill.

I gather from the speeches which have been made that the majority of members either accept or are prepared to pay lip-service to the principle of the Bill. In fact, most of the points raised were minor points affecting the details of the measure, apart from one or two statements made by Senator Sir John Keane. If I take the points in order it will, I think, be simpler. We can deal later with the one general matter raised. I do not think it is necessary that we should have any prolonged discussion on this stage as to whether or not such a measure was needed in 1931. I do not think that any member of the House is foolish enough to believe that unemployment only became a problem in this country with the advent to office of a Fianna Fáil Administration. The available statistics show that unemployment only began to diminish as a problem with the change of Government. Although it is quite true that in 1924, 1925, 1926 and the following years the actual number of people without work may have been less than it is at the moment, that was due entirely to the emigration which was then proceeding at the rate of 30,000 per year. That emigration has stopped. It stopped in 1931 and, at the end of 1931, unemployment was a very serious problem in this country—so serious that the Government in office quite contemplated the possibility of an outbreak of Communism arising out of the conditions then existing.

The position was, as I have said, that no reliable information about the unemployment problem was available. Our predecessors not merely took care not to find out the truth about unemployment, but even the few meagre statistics they had they kept to themselves and refused to publish. It would be obviously impossible for anybody to prepare a plan for dealing with unemployment until they had measured the problem—measured it not merely in absolute dimensions but also in its relations to particular districts and particular classes of the population. That was the first step. We took that step and, having taken measure of the problem, we have decided that we can deal with it—deal with it not merely by the provision of work, directly and indirectly, but also by a "blanket" measure of this kind. I said that there are more people in insurable employment than there ever have been since the Free State was established. Figures—incontestable figures—prove that. I mentioned the figures relating to the number of unemployment insurance books exchanged and new books issued in each of the insurance years. To some extent, these figures give us a total of insured people but it is an unreliable total. It is only of interest in the comparison of the figures for one year with another. For the 12 months of 1931, that number was 294,800. For the year ended March, 1933, the number was 363,800, an increase of 69,000. The revenue from the sale of unemployment insurance stamps in 1930 was £703,000. In 1932-33 the revenue, if contributions had remained the same as they were in 1930, would have been £760,000, an increase of over £60,000. As Senators are aware, one stamp must be sold for every week's employment by an insured person. Having taken the measure of the problem, having satisfied ourselves that it is diminishing in size and that the cost of the unemployment assistance scheme in this year will be its maximum cost, we decided upon the introduction of the scheme. It may be that abnormal conditions will arise in the future, that the progress now being made towards greater industrialisation, and the improvement of our economic system will be arrested or even reversed but, so far as we can see ahead, studying the prospects of the immediate and ultimate future, we are convinced that we can look for a rapid improvement to the extent that will enable us to be satisfied that the average annual cost of this scheme will be considerably lower than the estimated cost of the first year.

The matters raised were numerous and varied and, as I said, I propose to deal with them in the order in which I have taken them down. The first matter of importance raised related to the term "rateable valuation." That is defined in sub-section (5) of Section 26. I gather that Senator Staines dislikes the Act introduced by his Party in 1930. He said that the Government then in office offered an inducement to certain townships on the border of Dublin to come into the Greater Dublin organisation, and that that inducement took the form of reduction in rates for a number of areas. I do not know if Senator Staines was implying that another agreement was made to secure that amalgamation, like the agreement that Senator Keane and other Senators were referring to—the agreement that was made at the time of the Treaty. In any case, I do not know if it is desired that we should break that agreement they made. The Bill proposes to preserve the reductions in valuation made by the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930. I do not think it is possible for us to work on any other basis. We have fixed in our minds the amount we want. That is the amount which 1/6 in the £ on the rateable valuation, as defined, will produce. If Dublin Corporation or any other local authority wants to induce house-building and, in order to induce it, gives concessions in respect of rates over a number of years, or in some other way reduces its actual ability to secure rate-payments, that is its own look-out. The amount we want is 1/6 in the £ on the rateable valuation as defined there and 9d. in the £ on the rateable valuation for urban districts. Whether that amount will be secured by a rate of 1/6 in the £ or 9d. in the £ or some larger rate is not a matter of great concern. The important thing is not to have the rate fixed and the amount variable, but rather to have the amount fixed and the rate variable, so that we can reckon in advance in each year to the exact penny the amount we are going to get in from that source.

Senator Bagwell talked about the rate that would have to be paid by small farmers to maintain a standard of living for unemployed people of the kind contemplated by Senator Johnson. There is no rate arising under this Bill on any farmer. The effect of this Bill must be to reduce the rate-charge on agricultural land. In so far as the charge for the maintenance of able-bodied unemployed is taken off the rate on agricultural land, there is going to be a reduction in the rate-charge. Senator Brown and, I think, Senator Jameson referred to that matter in so far as it affected the City of Dublin and urban districts. In the four county boroughs and Dun Laoghaire, last year the average rate for home-assistance purpose was 1/6 in the £. I do not know what the actual amount expended was. That was the average rate for the different areas. A large part of the amount expended was given to able-bodied unemployed.

Before 1929, as the Senator remarked, the Dublin Corporation could not give assistance to able-bodied unemployed. A large part of the amount expended last year went in consequence of the additional powers extended to local authorities. That amount was given by the Board of Assistance at its absolute discretion. There is nothing in this Bill which would prevent the Board of Assistance giving assistance to any family or individual they believe requires it. We have assumed that in the majority of cases the receipt by these people of the amount provided will take them out of the class that the Dublin Board of Assistance would deal with. Perhaps that would not be entirely so and there may be exceptional cases. For instance, there are persons at present in receipt of pensions as large or larger than any payment under this Bill and at the same time they are getting home assistance because of the size of their families or because of certain obligations or other charges on their revenue which might result in hardship. In so far as certain cases of that type will arise, the Board will continue to give relief.

The Board of Assistance have means of determining the amount of relief that should be given that the Department of Industry and Commerce have not. They have officers who visit people in their home and who report to the Board on each individual case so that the Board can properly assess the measure of relief to be given. The Board is in a position to adjust the amount of assistance to individual circumstances. The Department could not do that. We fix a general rate and, subject to certain conditions, those in need get that rate. It may be that in certain cases the amount will be inadequate to prevent destitution. In such cases the Board of Assistance will have to give additional help.

The rates in Dublin will, I think, be considerably reduced by the taking of these able-bodied unemployed on this scheme, but the extent to which the rates will be reduced will be determined by the Board of Assistance itself. It will have to continue to meet its obligations in respect to the sick poor and those with whom it dealt prior to 1929. The extent to which the Board decides to supplement the amount payable to able-bodied unemployed under this Bill will determine the rate which will have to be struck in Dublin. In a number of the urban districts where there is a rate of 3/6 in the pound for home assistance it is almost certain there will be a substantial reduction, but the amount will be determined by the manner in which the Board of Assistance regards its functions in the future.

The 1/6 will have to be collected as a rate and paid to the Minister?

And the rate for home assistance, etc., will be over and above the 1/6 rate?

Quite. I was asked how much comes out of the Exchequer. It is not possible to give a definite figure, because the Exchequer will just make up the difference between the total expenditure and the sum received from rates and the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The question of possible evasions was mentioned. I am quite satisfied that we have stopped all the loopholes that experience of the Unemployment Insurance Acts has shown may occur. In fact, reading the comments made upon this Bill by English trade and other papers, all of which commented on the severity of the tests and the rigidity of the system, I think we have gone as far in that direction as we possibly could go. We are adopting a much more rigid system and we are imposing more severe tests than the British system requires. That fact has been commented upon.

When you refer to the British system, do you mean transitional benefits?

I have in mind the scheme of extended benefits grafted on to the insurance scheme which is, in effect, the same as this, except that it operates on a different basis. The reason for all that from our point of view is that we regard this scheme as experimental, and it must be experimental for a year or two. We have embodied in the Bill power to vary the means which qualify a person for benefit and power to reduce the amount payable under the Schedule. We are also taking power to make adjustments that ordinarily could only be fixed by law. There is little doubt that after a year or so we will have to introduce an amending Bill effecting the changes which, during that period, will be shown to be necessary. Ultimately, we will fix the code in a manner that may be regarded as permanent. We would need to get power to vary almost from day to day the various aspects of the scheme so that we will be able to deal with the various types of fraud, which no doubt will be attempted, and to get the total cost within the limit contemplated. The other matters that were raised in the course of the debate to-day can be more effectively dealt with in Committee.

Senator Johnson asked what justification there was for the levying of this rate on the county boroughs and urban districts. He referred to the urban districts and the provision which requires that the rate can be charged only on urban districts where the population is in excess of 7,000. We were anxious to provide that there would be payable in the urban districts a rate of assistance slightly higher than would be payable in the rural areas. We had in mind that the cost of living and rents would probably be higher in the urban districts than in the rural districts. It was considered necessary to have from certain towns some contribution towards the cost of administration. In the case of the county boroughs a larger contribution is to be exacted. It was obvious that we would have to include Drogheda, Dundalk, Cobh and other towns of that size.

We got a list of towns from the census taken in 1926 and we went through the figures of population for each town, trying to fix the point at which we would stop without causing any dissension as between the last town included and the first town excluded. We found that 7,000 was the obvious point, because there was a big gap there. Whereas you get towns with 9,000, 8,750, 8,500 and so on, down to 7,000, the next had a few hundred over 5,000. There appeared to be quite a clear gap, and it was the obvious point to select. We selected that point and, having examined the list of towns included and the list excluded, it seems to me to be a fairly good division, because the towns included are all more or less industrial towns; they are towns centred around certain industries or commercial activities with only an indirect relation to agriculture, although some of them are market towns. The towns below were, in the main, market towns, towns which live upon the agricultural community surrounding them, and towns in which the big event would be the monthly fair or the weekly market. It seems to me that although it was selected for one reason, that it suited administration, the point is also justifiable on other grounds.

The other point raised by Senator Johnson is undoubtedly one of importance, although I do not see any way of dealing with it. He referred to people going to England to get work as agricultural workers and domestic servants, becoming unemployed there and returning here. Then, if they lived in a rural district, they might become immediately entitled to unemployment assistance. That is so. It is true that they can do that. I think it would be impossible to devise any system which would prevent that. The nationals of the country have merely left to take employment abroad.

Excuse me, the Minister will notice that the definition "national" is such that a person may be in Northern Ireland for 15 years of his manhood or in the case of a woman of her womanhood.

Yes, but I do not see that there is any way to prevent that unless we have some prolonged waiting period and that is not practicable, I think, although one would easily contemplate cases in which one would not like to give this assistance because the person had long ago left the country and had earned his living and made his home abroad, and stayed abroad when employed. The most obvious cases are workers who go periodically every year to Scotland and other countries.

You cannot refuse them if they are destitute.

Senator Sir John Keane said it would be bad politics to oppose this Bill. I presume that is the explanation for the tactics of the Opposition Party. It is the only explanation that has been given. As Senator Johnson said, the extern leaders of the Party have been opposed to it and have been making speeches against it whilst members of the Party in the Dáil and Seanad have paid lip service to it. Certainly none of them has voted against it. I would like to remind them, however, that their policy in that regard is only typical of their policy in other matters. It is very hard to determine what their policy is or to be certain about it. If it is difficult to determine their policy, it is equally difficult to determine the motives which inspire it. It may be that their attitude to this Bill is determined by the fact that it is bad politics to oppose it. They did not say that themselves when accused of being deficient in moral courage in connection with their attitude to the Bill.

This Bill is a big measure. It is going to involve the creation of administrative machinery which, although it will be grafted on to the existing machinery of the Department will nevertheless be very difficult and it will take a long time to bring it into being. The officers of my Department told me that they will require at least six months from the date on which it will become law until it will come into operation. I told them that we could not possibly contemplate that delay especially in the cities and towns. It is possible in the cities and towns to put the Bill into operation earlier than in the rural areas because the same machinery is not required. We have to provide for bringing it in early in rural areas. A long period will be required.

It is quite obvious that the hardest time for the unemployed is the winter time and the earlier we can get this scheme into operation the better it will be. It will take at least three months to bring it into operation. This is because of the drafting of the regulations, the preparation of forms and the training of staff that will be required to operate the Bill. If the Bill now passes that will bring us into the New Year before a single payment under the Bill will be made. It will be only in a limited number of centres that payment will then take place, so that it will be well before the middle of the winter before it will be brought into operation. If we go too fast we run the risk of considerable losses arising out of payments being made that should not be made. Then there will be the further fact that it will have to be handled by people who have only recently been recruited to the public service. We must go slowly and we must plan our organisation with great care. We must bring the scheme into operation only when we are satisfied that it will work well. At the same time we must do it as quickly as possible so as to relieve distress. These are the considerations that gave me alarm when Senator Sir John Keane suggested a Select Committee. I suggest now that the Senator should reconsider his proposal of referring it to a Select Committee. The Bill is not a technical Bill in that sense of the word.

It would mean only three weeks.

Well, I was hoping to have the Bill law within three weeks from now. Again, let me refer the Senator to the fact that the Bill was not opposed by any Party. It may be that that arose from base motives but I was giving them credit for higher motives. The Bill was generally accepted in the Dáil and very little attempt was made to amend it there. That is because no amendment was possible. When I explain that statement the Senator will see the force of the argument against the appointment of a Select Committee. Every phrase in this Bill is a phrase taken from the Unemployment Acts. These phrases have very frequently been the subject of legal proceeding both in Great Britain and here. Everybody who is familiar with the Unemployment Insurance Acts, every trade union official or every employer of labour on a large scale will have no difficulty in interpreting the Bill. It will be a simple measure, the purpose of every section being clear. It is only somebody who has come to consider this matter for the first time who would regard the measure as a complicated one. To such a person it would be hard to explain some of the phrases without reverting to the legal decisions and the administrative regulations and reasons on which they are based. There is not a day in the week on which I do not get questions sent up as to whether a particular type of employment is an insurable form of employment and the decision is given. The Department bases its administration on the cumulative effect of all these legal decisions and the answers given by the various Ministers and their interpretation of the various phrases in the past 13 years. The special significance of these phrases could not be altered without wrecking the idea which underlies the Bill. We based the Bill upon the idea of making it conform closely to the Insurance Acts. Under this measure there will be the same method of checking, the same method of payment and there will be the same court of referees to decide questions. If you try to upset that you upset the whole idea underlying the Bill. You might as well reject the Bill as do that. That is why no attempt was made to amend the Bill in the Dáil because if you go to alter it you upset the whole structure of the Bill and you change the whole thing. I ask therefore that the suggestion that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee should not be pressed. It would mean great delay in bringing the Bill into law. I am anxious to avoid that delay. The pressure to commence payments at an early date will daily grow stronger now. The earliest date will be some date in January, 1934. Every week's delay now may mean something more than a week's delay then and I think that is something all parties are anxious to avoid. I will be anxious to give the members of the Seanad any information concerning any part of the Bill during the Committee Stage.

I wonder is the Minister right in saying that a week's delay now would mean a week's delay in bringing the Bill into existence? Whatever one may say about the Bill, there is agreement about it and, therefore, I think while the Seanad was quietly examining the Bill to make sure there were no things in it that we did not understand, the Minister would have perfect justification for going on with the regulations and so on. It would be well that the Bill were examined, so that we may be sure it did not contain more than we thought. While that is being done with the knowledge of the Minister he could go ahead with his arrangement and in that he would be acting perfectly correctly. A week's delay while we are examining the Bill will really not interfere with the bringing into operation of the Bill.

That might be possible if I had an assurance in advance that the Seanad is not going to amend the Bill. If I am assured there will be no amendment following on the examination it can go ahead, but everything that can be done in advance of the passage of the Bill has been done. We cannot, however, recruit the staff and proceed to train the staff until we know precisely what the Bill is going to be in its final form. We have to get out instructions, to prepare the regulations and to prepare the different forms and indices that will have to be used, and proceed to train people on the basis of the Bill as passed, but even these people themselves cannot be recruited until the Bill is law.


The Second Stage has to be passed anyhow before we do anything further.

Question put and agreed to.

With regard to the Committee Stage, the Minister is so persuasive that I am not going to press for this Committee, but I am not quite convinced that the Bill should not be very carefully examined. Some Senators have suggested that we should have a fortnight to consider it before the Committee Stage. I will leave it to the House, but I think it would be a good thing to have a fortnight in which to consider it.

With all respect, I suggest that we ought to take the Committee Stage this day week. I agree entirely with what the Minister has said. There is nothing very technical in the Bill at all, and those of us who understand the working of the Unemployment Insurance Acts——

The Minister did not say that.

He did. He said that there was nothing very technical in the Bill that could not easily be understood by people who understand the working of the Unemployment Insurance Acts. What the Bill contains is perfectly clear to those who understand the working of those Acts. If any of the Senators have any difficulty on Committee Stage, those of us who have some little experience of these things will do our very best to solve them for them.

I wonder are we doing right now because we did not hear of this Bill really until the other day. It is not a Bill which the Government brought in at an early stage of their career and said: "This is one of the things we want to push through." It is a Bill which none of us heard about until the other day.

The Bill was introduced in the Session of the Dáil which closed before the Summer Recess.

Was it debated?

No. The Dáil, in fact, met specially on the 27th September to deal with this Bill.

That is only two or three weeks ago. This is a very huge scheme, and the Minister himself admits that it is a brand new departure in relation to unemployment relief. The Minister has studied this subject and knows all about it, but I doubt if there is a single member of the Seanad who is prepared to stand an examination on what this Bill really means. The Minister tells us that all the loopholes are stopped but we do not know that that is so, and I do not think it is wise for the Seanad, much as we respect the Minister and trust his word, to take that for granted. It would require much more than sitting down now—and this is Wednesday—and going through the Bill and settling amongst ourselves what amendments we would bring forward by Monday next to make us consider that we had done our duty by a Bill of this magnitude. Remember, this is going to put £500,000 at least of extra taxation on the Free State. I am not going to refer to bygones, but quite recently in this House we heard small sums like £30,000 debated and we were told that the Seanad in taking the action it did take was doing a terrible thing. Here we have £500,000. The State is not wealthy and it is not making much money, and if we proceed to put huge amounts of taxation on the inhabitants of the State who are not earning the money to pay, it means that that taxation will have to be met out of the capital of the State and if we once proceed on that line, we are undoubtedly taking a risk. A serious amount of thought is required in relation to what we are doing and its cost to the State, and I do think that the Seanad should have a little more time than three or four days to consider these matters. I still hold that we will not be doing any harm to the Minister if we take an extra week to consider this. We will be doing less harm than if we came in here half prepared and adjourned things or were not ready for the discussion which ought to take place. I believe that we will be doing more good and will get through our job much more quickly if we take a fortnight instead of a week.

I think the House might be unanimous on the point. I said that I would not press for the Committee, although I believe I could carry it. After all, this Bill has been incubating almost for years, and here now we are grudged a fortnight to examine the thing.

I am not grudging the fortnight. In fact, my only concern is to have the Bill law about the end of this month.

I have no objection whatever to the Bill being taken this day fortnight, assuming that, if there is no amendment, we can get all the stages in that week.

I think that is very probable. I am sure that the Minister will realise this, that if we sit to-morrow—and week-ends are weekends—by Monday there is not very much done.


I do not think we sit to-morrow. I hope not, at least.

We are surely not going to go on to-night?


I think so. The Committee Stage of this Bill then will be taken on this day fortnight.

May I throw out a suggestion for consideration? Suppose we sit on Thursday next week instead of Wednesday. It would give another day, and it would be a very important day——


I have fixed the Committee Stage for next Wednesday week, Senator.

Committee Stage ordered for 1st November, 1933.


What is the opinion of the House about these remaining Bills?

No. 5, the Unemployment Insurance Bill, has really been discussed on the last debate. It is just an appendage.


They are the Merchant Shipping Bill and the Unemployment Insurance Bill. I do not think they will take long.

I think we can finish to-night.