Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

Social Welfare (Occupational Injuries) Bill, 1965: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Tuesday, 8 February 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 220 No. 7

First Page Previous Page Page of 63 Next Page Last Page

Debate resumed on the following amendment:

In subsection (1), page 13, line 11, to substitute “fifty shillings” for “forty shillings”.

—(Deputy James Tully)

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The purpose of this amendment is to increase the benefits payable from forty shillings to fifty shillings in respect of injuries benefit. I think there is quite a lot to be said for it. It is not my amendment but I would certainly support it. I should like to hear what the Minister has to say against it. I did not put down the amendment but in this year of 1966, in order to keep up [983] with the increase in the cost of living, I consider the amendment is no more than is reasonably necessary.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Boland): Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland The increase for an adult dependant, with the social insurance schemes, is 40/- a week and that is the increase we are proposing here. That seems to be appropriate since we know no particular reason why the rate payable under this Bill should be different from that in respect of unemployment benefit or the disability benefit. We are, in fact, proposing the same increase here of 40/-.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 10 agreed to.

SECTION 11.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Amendments Nos. 46, 47, 63 and 64 may be taken together.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish I move amendment No. 46:

In subsection (1), page 14, line 2, to substitute “twenty-two shillings and sixpence” for “thirteen shillings”.

I regret that Deputy Tully is not present because this is his particular amendment. It is proposed by this amendment that the sum of 13/- for a qualified child be increased to 22/-and amendment No. 47 proposes that the amount of 8/- be increased to 14/6. I am assuming we are taking the two amendments together.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan That is right.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish I suppose the arguments that can be used here are the same as Deputy Fitzpatrick used in respect of the previous amendment. One can argue that the amount proposed by the Minister is thoroughly inadequate for a child and for that reason the 22/- is included in the amendment. I do not know whether it is correct to link all those payments, particularly for dependants, with the allowances paid in other social welfare fields such as sickness benefit and unemployment [984] benefit. It has always been the practice to give bigger payments to somebody who is injured on the job, the difference being that when a man became injured in some other place it had nothing to do with his job and when he became unemployed, it was not in any way an accident but was because he did not behave himself or some other reason.

With regard to industrial injuries, we must recognise that the man must be compensated by reason of the fact that he was working and that he contracted disability or injury in these circumstances and therefore should circumstances. These allowances are speak, or gifts from a fund that has been subscribed to by the employer or the employee. This is compensation, compensation to a man who is disabled and who cannot work or who is partially incapacitated. For that reason, I think the Minister should not link these benefits with sickness benefit. This is compensation for injury, illness or some disease contracted during the course of his employment. This compensation should be more than is payable for unemployment or sickness.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I should like to join with Deputy Corish and perhaps elaborate somewhat on the argument made by him. When workmen's compensation was last fixed at £4 10s. per week, I would believe that it then exceeded the rate of social welfare benefit payable, and perhaps the Minister could tell us what the rate of social welfare benefit was when workmen's compensation was fixed at that figure? However, irrespective of what it was, as Deputy Corish has said, this measure we are now putting through is a measure to compensate a workman and his dependants for loss resulting from incapacity to work or from injuries received in the course of employment. It is not being contributed to in any way by the State. It is something that the employers are paying for in the form of the equivalent of a premium.

This is to take the place of workmen's [985] compensation and, if this measure had not been brought in, I believe workmen's compensation would have had to be increased very substantially. It is common case that an increase in workmen's compensation is long overdue. So far has that case been accepted that the Department of Social Welfare for some time past have been supplementing these benefits and bringing them up to the rate of social welfare. Therefore, I say an allowance of 13/- in respect of a child qualified for the purpose of this Bill or for each of the two children so qualified for the purpose of this Bill or for each of the two children so qualified is really insufficient. Certainly a sum of 8/- in respect of the third and each subsequent child is very insufficient.

I should like to hear what the Minister has to say about the relationship of workmen's compensation to social welfare benefits now and when workmen's compensation was last fixed. If the Minister can tell me that they have kept pace then I concede in advance that there is not as much weight in my argument as there would have been but there is still weight in it because this measure is to compensate workmen for injuries received, to which the State contributes nothing.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland It is agreed, of course, obviously in the Bill that a bigger payment is appropriate in the case of a person who becomes entitled to occupational injury benefit than the person who becomes entitled to ordinary disability benefit. In fact, a bigger payment is being provided; that is, in regard to the basic payment for the workman himself. While I have not got the figure at which the rate of disability benefit stood when the maximum rate of workmen's compensation was last fixed, it is a fact that the rate of injury benefit provided in this Bill is 115/- and the rate of disability benefit is 52/6, so that the rate of injury benefit we are providing here is, in fact, more than twice the rate of disability benefit. Of course, in addition to that, there is the fact that if, after 26 weeks, the person concerned is still assessed as being 100 per cent disabled, he continues to get the 115/-in [986] the form of disablement benefit. If, in addition to that, he is also incapable of work, he also gets the maximum rate of disability benefit; so that, in the case of a single man who has 100 per cent disablement benefit and is also unable to work, the rate of payment would be £8 7s. 6d. We are dealing, in this section, with the increases in this amount in respect of children and there is no question of suggesting that 13/- is sufficient for a child; this is an increase of the benefit in respect of children. It is quite reasonable that we should have here the same increases in respect of dependants as we have in other social insurance schemes.

This amendment—the same as the last one—is apparently one of a series of amendments submitted by Deputy James Tully with a general view to having the rates in this Bill the same as those in Great Britain. But, in this case, he has actually gone a little further because his proposal is that there should be an increase of 22/6 paid in respect of each of the first two children and 14/6 in respect of each other child; whereas in the British scheme—which he was apparently aiming at getting into conformity with— the 22/6 is payable in respect of the first child only.

The payments in respect of injury are considerably in excess of the ordinary disability benefit payments and I do not see, then, why there is a case for these very considerably increased payments in respect of children also. Apart from that, of course, the provision for raising money to give such increases has not been made. The amounts of contribution have been assessed on the basis of providing the rates of benefit envisaged in this Bill.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish The employers could provide more.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully But the Minister is apparently forgetting the fact that Northern Ireland can do this sort of thing and are collecting less from the employers than the Minister is collecting here. The Minister—the last day—related it to the cost of medical treatment and said that was where the extra charge came in.

[987]Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland ——and disability benefit.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully But I still do not believe that the actuarial report would show what the Minister seems to suggest it would show, because of the fact that the incidence of industrial employment in Northern Ireland, as the Minister is aware, is very much higher than it is here where we are not so industrialised.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland It is a fact that the cost of medical care is being provided under this Bill and also the cost of paying disability benefit—in addition to disablement benefit—where the person is unable to work. That makes necessary the higher rates of contribution in our scheme plus, of course, the fact that we have a different economic structure here.

Of course, Deputy James Tully—as he knows himself and as he admitted the last day—is not quite consistent in trying to have the rates here brought into line with those in Great Britain because in the few cases, I admit, in which the rates are actually greater in our Bill, he should propose that they be reduced to the rates in Great Britain.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I do not know what the Minister means by saying the industrial position here is different. The industrialisation on this side of the Border is such that it does not warrant as high an accident rate as in the North. As far as the question of reducing the amounts is concerned, there could be no suggestion that this be done because the Minister is asking the employer here to pay more than is being paid in Northern Ireland for a lesser amount, except in one or two cases and then he points out the amount is greater. While there is an automatic adjustment in Northern Ireland with Great Britain, apparently something extraordinary happened here because the Minister admitted that the minority report recommended parity with Northern Ireland and Great Britain. He says that the Government here propose to scale the amount since the report was made. Northern Ireland and Great Britain did the same thing [988] but, in between, there seems to have grown up a difference of £1 in some cases. I do not know how the Minister proposes to justify that, unless he says the cost of living here has not risen to the same extent as in Northern Ireland or Great Britain. However, I shall not labour this point because the Minister's mind seems to be made up.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland It is purely a question of mathematics to show that the rates recommended by the minority have, in fact, been adjusted to compensate for the rise in the cost of living here. As Deputy James Tully says, I have my mind made up. The whole scheme has been costed on the rates in this Bill and it would not be possible to change the rates of benefit without also increasing the rates of contribution, but Deputy Tully proposes they should be reduced.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I did not propose they should be reduced. The Minister is making a petty point.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland The Deputy proposed the rate of contribution should be reduced.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Yes; if the Minister is not going to do the one, then he should do the other.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 47 not moved.

Section 11 agreed to.

SECTION 12.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Amendments Nos. 48, 49 and 50 can, I take it, be discussed together.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): There is, I think, a different principle involved. I think amendment No. 48 more or less stands on its own.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully They are different.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Very well.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I move amendment No. 48:

In subsection (1), to delete paragraphs (a) and (b) and substitute the following:—

“to the appropriate amount of injury benefit”.

[989] The object of section 12 seems to be to increase the disability allowance if, as a result of loss of faculty, the beneficiary is incapable of work and likely to remain permanently so incapable. In the case of a beneficiary under 18 years of age, or, being over that age, a married woman other than a married woman living apart from and unable to obtain any financial assistance from her husband, it is proposed to increase the weekly rate by 40/- in the first instance and in the other case by 52/6. The purpose of my amendment is not to increase it by any specified sum but to increase it to the appropriate rate of injury benefit. That is, I think, a reasonable approach. If the person is regarded as totally incapable of work and likely to remain permanently so incapable, then I think he or she should revert to the appropriate injury benefit rate.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Deputy Fitzpatrick does not, I think, appreciate that this disablement benefit may, in fact, itself be equal to injury benefit.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully May.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): In certain cases, yes.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland In the type of case that would be likely to arise under section 12, it very probably would be equal to maximum injury benefit or approximate to it. This provision here is for an addition of 52/6 by way of supplement to disablement benefit so that a person qualifying under this section could receive the full amount of injury benefit plus 52/6. If Deputy Fitzpatrick's amendment were accepted, it appears to me the maximum amount that such a person could receive would be the amount of injury benefit, or, in other words, 115/-. This amendment would, therefore, in the majority of cases work out to the disadvantage of the worker.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): All I want is fair play. As I see it, it does not matter whether a man is 20 per cent disabled or 100 per cent; if he is to be regarded as not able to work, he should be treated as 100 per [990] cent disabled and should be compensated accordingly. That is the case I am trying to make. I may not have used the best possible draftsmanship. As is usually done in cases like this, I put down the amendment to draw the attention of the Minister to what I regard as an injustice or an inequity. The man I am really worried about is the man who may be in receipt of only 23/- a week and still be totally unable to work. If my mathematics are correct, that man would get 75/6 under this heading.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland If he were single.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Yes, whereas the man who is getting 100 per cent disablement benefit but is not more incapacitated than the first man would get, again if my mathematics are correct, 167/6. I think there is something wrong there.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Surely not. The disablement benefit is compensation for loss of faculty. Unemployability supplement or disability benefit is compensation for not being able to work. Deputy Fitzpatrick has instanced two different cases. The man in receipt of 100 per cent disablement benefit would have suffered some severe disability, probably the loss of two feet or two arms, and surely there is every reason for a differential in the amount payable in respect of that disablement as compared with a man who loses, say, one finger.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Wooden legs have come in useful recently.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I think there is every reason for a differential in such cases. The likelihood of a person who is only 20 per cent disabled being incapable of work is not so great and the majority of people who would qualify for unemployability supplement would be those assessed as being 100 per cent disabled or very close to it.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I agree with most of what the Minister says. There is, however, the classic case I quoted last week about the man suffering from asthma. He was examined by the Minister's officials and found capable of work. Two hours after he was [991] hardly able to walk. The Department were asked to examine him at a later hour and they found that he was unfit for work. But they had already decided on three occasions that he was fit for work. Deputy Fitzpatrick is making the case that there may be certain circumstances in which someone may be declared only partly unfit or disabled and that person may, at certain times of the day, or perhaps throughout the whole day, be unable to do a full day's work. While I agree with 90 per cent of what the Minister says, there is just a chance that not all cases may be so clear-cut. Perhaps the Minister would have a look at it to see if he can remedy it?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland A case like that is dealt with, as far as it can be dealt with, by payment of unemployability supplement or disability benefit, as the case may be, at the full rate.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I take it the Minister's argument is that it is unlikely, even extremely unlikely, the Minister says, that a man who is only 20 or 30 per cent disabled would be totally unfit for work, but I understood the Minister to admit that if such a man were totally unfit for work, he would be suffering a hardship as compared with the man 100 per cent unfit. If the Minister concedes that, then he and his advisers should, as Deputy Tully suggests, have another look at this and try to put in some safety valve to cover these hard luck cases.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I do not agree he would be suffering hardship as compared with the 100 per cent disabled person because the 100 per cent disabled person would have a very severe degree of disablement as compared with the man suffering from only 20 or 30 per cent disablement. I think it is reasonable to provide a higher rate of compensation in the former case. The unemployability supplement is the same for all.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I take it [992] amendments Nos. 49 and 50 can be discussed together.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Yes. I move amendment No. 49:

In subsection (1), page 14, line 21, to substitute “forty-five shillings and sixpence” for “forty shillings”.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland This is the same thing.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully It is. It is seeking parity with the Northern Ireland scheme. We have already discussed the principle of this and as the Minister has refused to accept it, I do not think there is any point in discussing it again.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 50 not moved.

Section 12 agreed to.

SECTION 13.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Amendments Nos. 51 and 52.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I move amendment No. 51:

In subsection (1), page 14, line 45, to substitute “fifty-two” for “forty”.

This is the same again. We have already argued this point. The principle is simply parity with Northern Ireland and apparently the Minister is not prepared to accept that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 52 not moved.

Section 13 agreed to.

Section 14 agreed to.

NEW SECTION.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I move amendment No. 53:

Before section 15 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) The weekly rate of disablement pension shall, subject to the following provisions of this section, be increased by an amount not exceeding the appropriate amount specified in the Table to this section if as the result of the relevant loss of faculty the beneficiary—

[993] (a) is incapable and likely to remain permanently incapable of following his regular occupation; and (b) is incapable of following employment of an equivalent standard which is suitable in his case,

or if as the result of the relevant loss of faculty the beneficiary is and has at all times since the end of the injury benefit period been incapable of following the said occupation or any such employment as aforesaid.

(2) In the foregoing subsection—

(a) the reference to a person's regular occupation shall be taken as not including any subsidiary occupation of his;

(b) the reference to employment of an equivalent standard shall be taken as not including employment other than insurable employment; and in assessing the standard of remuneration in any employment, including a person's regular occupation, regard shall be had to his reasonable prospects of advancement.

(3) For the purposes of this section, a person's regular occupation shall be treated as extending to and including employment in the capacities to which the persons in that occupation (or a class or description of them to which he belonged at the time of the relevant injury) are in the normal course advanced, and to which, if he had continued to follow that occupation without having suffered the relevant loss of faculty, he would have had at least the normal prospects of advancement; and so long as he is as a result of the relevant loss of faculty deprived in whole or in part of those prospects, he shall be treated as incapable of following that occupation.

(4) Regulations may for the purposes of this section provide that a person shall be treated as capable of following an occupation of employment merely because of his working thereat during a period of trial or for purposes of rehabilitation or [994] training or in other prescribed circumstances.

(5) An unemployability supplement and an increase of pension under this section shall not be payable for the same period.

(6) Subject to the last foregoing subsection, an increase of pension under this section shall be payable for such period as may be determined at the time it is granted, but may be renewed from time to time, and the amount of the increase shall be determined by reference to the beneficiary's probable standard of remuneration during the period for which it is granted in the insurable employments, if any, which are suitable in his case and which he is likely to be capable of following as compared with that in his regular occupation within the meaning of subsection (1) of this section.

(7) Regulations may make as respects a disablement gratuity provision corresponding to that made by this section as respects a disablement pension, and may include provision for payment of a pension in lieu of a gratuity.

TABLE

Maximum increase under section 15 of weekly rate of disablement pension in cases of special hardship.

£2 14s. 0d. or the amount (if any) by which the weekly rate of the pension falls short of £6 15s. 0d., whichever is the less.

This is one of the most important proposals before the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan It is long enough anyway.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Unfortunately there was not any other way of dealing with it and in view of the fact that the Minister and his advisers did not think it right to include it, there was no short way of dealing with it. It proposes a special hardship allowance which operates in Northern Ireland and Britain and again it is a question of introducing parity with Britain. I should like to hear the Minister's views on it. This should stand up on its own whether or not the Minister is pre [995] pared to accept the remainder of the amendments which claim parity.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I dealt with this on Second Stage and I decided that this special hardship allowance which is provided in the British scheme was not appropriate to our conditions and, indeed, that it was not a very satisfactory provision from a number of points of view. The allowance is in the following terms, a weekly rate of disablement pension of less than 100 per cent is increased by a special hardship allowance if, as a result of the loss of a faculty arising from injury at work, the beneficiary is incapable and likely to remain permanently incapable of following his regular occupation, or incapable of suitable work of an equivalent standard, or if he is continuously unfit for his regular occupation, or equivalent accupation, from the time his injury benefit ends. It is subject to a certain maximum allowance, with the additional provision that the total of disablement pension and special hardship allowance cannot exceed the maximum weekly rate of pension.

Obviously there are a lot of very difficult things to be decided there. Within these limits of the rate of allowance is the difference between the standard of remuneration in the beneficiary's regular occupation and that in any suitable occupation which he is able to follow. In this connection the beneficiary's regular occupation is regarded as including the normal prospects of advancement and the standard is assessed having regard to such prospects of advancement. There are a lot of theoretical questions to be settled there. It is quite obvious that such a provision would be the one thing in this Bill that would give rise to interminable disputes and conflict between the claimant and the adjudicating authorities.

One feature of this is that the sum of the allowance and the pension cannot exceed the maximum rate of pension and this means that it is only those who are disabled at a percentage less than the maximum who can possibly benefit from this and the amount of [996] benefit it would be possible to get under the special hardship allowance would increase according as the percentage of disablement benefit decreased. Therefore, this proposed amendment could benefit only those who suffer relatively slight disablement. An objection obviously to it is that persons with limited disability, able to resume employment but suffering from a reduction of earnings, either as related to their pre-accident work or to some theoretical amount calculated in accordance with all the presumptions I have mentioned, would be compensated both for loss of faculty by way of disablement pension, and loss of earnings, while a person severely disabled would be compensated only for the loss of faculty and if he were not able to earn as much as before then he would receive no compensation in respect of loss of earnings.

Another criticism of the payment of this allowance is that since the amount of the allowance would fall to be reduced if a person's earning capacity should increase at any time following loss of faculty, then the allowance would be a serious disincentive to a person's desire to rehabilitate himself. That, I think, has been the experience in Great Britain. As I said, the administration of this allowance would be likely to be very costly and to give rise to many disputes which would never be satisfactorily resolved. The difficulty of determining equitably and in an acceptable way the beneficiary's pre-accident earnings and also his potential post-accident earnings, and to adjust these calculations where necessary by reference to the worker's prospects of advancement and other wage increases appropriate to his employment, would be excessive.

The Commission considered this question of how to arrive at an equitable determination of earnings under the existing scheme and it seemed to be so great that the majority who were in favour of retaining the existing type of scheme almost felt compelled to recommend a flat rate of benefit. In this regard I should mention that the rates of disablement pensions proposed are in fact closer to the average weekly rate of earnings in this country than [997] the corresponding rates of disablement benefit in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Another point which I think is relevant is that in addition to disablement benefit, we will pay the maximum rate of disability benefit, or the unemployability supplement, which amounts to the same thing, if a person is unable to work. Therefore it would not be advisable to introduce this special hardship allowance here. It would be a disincentive as it has proved to be where it is operating and it is not really necessary in view of the fact that disability benefit is paid.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully This Bill stands or falls by the proposal to include this special section. The Minister was naive in explaining that the proposal could not give increases to those who were 100 per cent incapacitated and would apply only to those who were less than 100 per cent incapacitated, and in a peculiar kind of way he suggested that those who were 100 per cent incapacitated would have a grievance if somebody else was getting as much or almost as much as they were getting. Of course, there is no such question in this at all. This is simply an effort to try to level off the allowance of those who though they may not be 100 per cent incapacitated, are not able to continue their employment, and it will possibly bring in those with whom Deputy Fitzpatrick dealt earlier on.

The Minister should tell the House— I am sure he has the information— what percentage of those in Northern Ireland and Britain who are receiving benefit are also receiving this type of benefit. This is very significant because in concluding the Minister said the evidence in Britain was that the people were abusing it. He did not use those words but that is what he meant; there was no incentive to return to work because of this benefit. I do not think the Minister is correct there. I think he will find—I am sure he has the figures before him—that a very high proportion of those who are drawing benefit in Britain are drawing this special benefit. The Minister should not attempt to get out of it by saying it would be very costly when he has [998] previously made the case that it would only be a small thing applying to a limited number. He cannot have it both ways. Either it will be costly and will affect a large number of people or it will affect only a relatively small number of people and involve only a small amount of money. The table says:

Maximum increase under section 15 of weekly rate of disablement pension in cases of special hardship. £2 14s. 0d. or the amount (if any) by which the weekly rate of the pension falls short of £6 15s. 0d., whichever is the less.

That answers the Minister's argument. I am quite sure that if this was not included in the British or Northern Ireland scheme, the scheme would not be considered the success it is. In view of the fact that the Minister has admitted that this scheme was recommended by the minority report—I am interested in the fact that he has quoted only one recommendation from the majority report when it suited—and the fact that what has been happening in Britain and in Northern Ireland under their scheme has been used, and has been found very useful, in drawing up this scheme, the Minister should take cognisance of that. If he does, he must admit that without this allowance that scheme would not be the success it is. This is something I am not prepared to withdraw. Has the Minister got the figures I asked for?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland No. I would not have those figures in respect of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully They must be there. The Commission had them.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I can say this: it is expected that the cost of this allowance in Northern Ireland will form 21.7 per cent of the total expenditure when the scheme is in full operation.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister must know that, taking this 21.7 for Northern Ireland into account, it is still cheaper than what he is offering. There must be a catch somewhere, if the Minister is charging more and giving [999] less and is not including this special hardship allowance. There is a big discrepancy somewhere and I would be very interested to know where it is. It does appear as if somebody is anxious not alone to have the scheme giltedged but to put in a sizeable amount on the side. There must be, over and above a substantial amount of money which is being budgeted for by the Minister, and I should like to know why this is being done.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Deputy Tully has been told that the principal item of the discrepancy is the cost of medical care which is not provided in Great Britain and Northern Ireland under their industrial injuries legislation but which we are providing here. In addition to that there is the cost of disability benefit which will be payable in addition to disablement benefit in the case of people who are unfit for work. That will involve a considerable amount because disability benefit will be 52/6d for the person himself plus the allowances in respect of adult and child dependants.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister says this scheme is carrying hospital benefit and that is why the extra charge is being made. Is it not correct that the system at present operating will be continued? Is it not a fact that, excluding a few exceptional cases, cases of injury attention in hospital will be dealt with as they are dealt with at the present time? If that is so—and that is the information I got from the Minister's Department; they said the reason they were insisting on leaving it that way was that it was the best way to keep a watch on the expenditure—then the Minister's argument falls flat.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland The cost of medical care is not covered at all under workmen's compensation.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I know it is not. Would the Minister say if the cost of medical care is being covered completely by this Bill or whether it is true that his Department will continue to operate the present scheme and that [1000] anybody who is entitled to medical care will get it under the existing Health Act or under the new legislation which the Minister for Health will be introducing in ten years' time? If the present system is to be continued where does this colossal cost the Minister is talking about arise?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland The cost of medical care in respect of occupational injuries has to be paid for.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully By whom?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Out of the fund, and it is included in the contribution by the employer.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Would the Minister quote the section in which that is stated?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Will it be paid out of the fund in relief of the rates?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland It may be in relief of the rates. It depends on the particular case.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): As far as the workman is concerned, there is no additional benefit to him.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully That is not the point. The Minister says it is being paid out of the fund. I should be very glad to hear that it is, but would the Minister tell me where it is stated in the Bill?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Payment of the cost of medical care is dealt with in section 26, and section 37 (2) (b), which deals with the Occupational Injuries Fund, says:

The following sums paid out of the Social Insurance Fund shall be repaid to that Fund out of the Occupational Injuries Fund.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): That is very limited if it is not covered by anything else.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland That deals with the repayment of disability benefit. Section 26 deals with the payment of the cost of medical care.

[1001]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Section 26 really says it shall be paid out of the fund here, that it is not payable out of any other fund. That would apply only in the case of the higher paid worker, certainly away above the £10 a week man.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully That knocks the bottom out of the Minister's argument.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland No. I agree it is only to the extent it is not payable under the Health Act. Between that and the cost of the disability benefit, that accounts for the fact that the contributions here have to be higher.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The other day when we were discussing another section the Minister stated the big draw on this was the fact that you had to cover medical treatment——

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland And disability benefit.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Medical treatment was the one the Minister mentioned particularly. He has been sticking on that wicket. Now that is gone.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland It is not gone.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The position is there is no change for the lower income person, the person who would normally be entitled to medical treatment. The rates and the Department of Health will still cover his treatment.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland They may not cover it all.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully So far they have covered it or most of it. The Department's argument is that this is the best way to keep a watch——

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland The Commission regarded it as very important that this be included.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully For this reason. Whether or not it is included is not in argument here. It is being included, but the Minister cannot argue this is the only reason the charges are higher for lesser benefit.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Of course, I can.

[1002]Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I cannot stop him but it knocks the bottom out of his own argument or, at least, makes it a very shallow one. We come back to the simple argument that you are charging more for less.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland The Deputy is ignoring disability benefit altogether?

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Separate cards are being stamped for disability benefit, which the employer, the employee and the Government pay. That is one thing. Would the Minister say why this special hardship allowance which, according to his own statement, represents 21 per cent of the cost in Northern Ireland, is completely excluded from this Bill despite the fact that the charges for benefit are higher?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I have told the Deputy already why it is being excluded. I do not consider it is appropriate. It is of no benefit to those who are really severely disabled and its main effect is to act as a disincentive to the workman in his efforts to rehabilitate himself and to take up employment or improve his earning capacity. Once this is received there is immediately an incentive to retain it.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister is suggesting that injured workmen if they can get paid full wages or anything like it would prefer to stay at home rather than try to resume work? I do not know whether that is his experience or not.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland It is not a question of staying at home altogether.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully My experience is that workers do not do that. The Minister said it was not a question of men staying at home altogether. He cannot argue that they can go out to work while getting this. They can get other benefits and resume work if they are able to do a certain amount of work, but this special allowance would not apply to the man able to resume work.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Yes, it would. It would apply to the man able to resume work provided the work he got was not as [1003] remunerative as his pre-accident work or whatever his potential earnings in his pre-accident work would be assessed at.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I do not propose to read the entire amendment, but it makes it clear—and this amendment, as the Minister is aware, is taken from the legislation on the other side—that what the Minister has just said is not possible. It simply boils down to this: the Minister has, in fact, left out a very important section of the legislation which he has been following up to now with the exception of parity in payments—and he has gone within £1 of that in some cases. In this case one of the most important sections—the Minister himself admits it accounts for 21 per cent of the cost in Northern Ireland—is being left out. The Minister tried to base his argument on the fact that the charges, because they were covering medical expenses and hospital bills, could not be reduced. He said that was why other things were being left out. Before this Bill is passed I will try to find out where the catch is, because catch there certainly is in it.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland There is no catch in it. As I said, there is the cost of medical care and the cost of disability benefit.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Medical care is out.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland It is not out. Disability benefit will be a major consideration in it.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The major one that should be in it is not in it.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 54 to 58, inclusive, not moved.

Section 15 agreed to.

SECTION 16.

Amendment No. 59 not moved.

Section 16 agreed to.

SECTION 17.

Amendment No. 60 not moved.

Section 17 agreed to.

[1004] SECTION 18.

Amendment No. 61 not moved.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I move amendment No. 62:

In subsection (2), page 16, line 29, to add the following:

“but the pension during the first 13 weeks of widowhood shall be £5 12s. 6d.”.

The section reads:

The widower of the deceased shall be entitled to death benefit if at her death he was being wholly or mainly maintained by her or would, but for the relevant accident, have been so maintained.

(2) In the case of a widower who was, at the death of the deceased, incapable of self-support by reason of some physical or mental infirmity and likely to remain permanently so incapable, death benefit shall be a pension at the weekly rate of ninety-five shillings.

I wish to insert at that point:

But the pension during the first 13 weeks of widowhood shall be £5 12s. 6d.

The section then continues:

(3) In the case of any other widower, death benefit shall be a gratuity of two hundred and forty-seven pounds.

(4) A pension under this section shall not be payable for any period after the person to whom it is payable ceases to be incapable of self-support by reason of some physical or mental infirmity.

This, again, is a question of seeking parity.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland This is one of the cases where Deputy Tully has not been very consistent. For instance, in the previous section if he wanted to seek parity he would have proposed a reduction in the rate of widow's pension because the rate proposed here is 95/-as against 90/- in Great Britain. The same thing applies here. The basic rate, if I can call it such, is 95/-, which is higher than the rate in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. [1005] Although Deputy Tully is very keen on parity, he does not propose to reduce that to 90/-. I think, in fact, he got slightly mixed-up here when he proposed that the widower's pension for the first 13 weeks shall be £5 12s. 6d. This, again, would not be the same as in Northern Ireland because it is the widows——

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Widowhood.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland But it is the widow's pension in Great Britain and Northern Ireland that is increased for the first 13 weeks, not the widower's. He should have put it down to section 17, if that is what Deputy Tully intended to do. Section 17 deals with widows: this deals with widowers.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I see that now. It should be section 17.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Anyhow, I do not see any particular case for doing it here for widowers.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed: “That section 18 stand part of the Bill”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I do not want to try to make a case for good-for-nothing husbands but I think this section as it is drafted could work an injustice. It is provided that the widower of the deceased shall be entitled to death benefit, if at her death he was being wholly or mainly maintained by her or would, but for the relevant accident, have been so maintained. The section goes on to say in subsection (2) that if, at the death of the deceased, the widower was incapable of self-support by reason of some physical or mental infirmity and likely to remain permanently so incapable, death benefit shall be a pension at the weekly rate of ninety-five shillings but, in any other case, he shall be entitled to a gratuity of £247. I am usually not in favour of giving any Department an open cheque but I should be happier about subsection (2) if it read “In the case of a widower who was, at the death of the deceased, incapable of self-support...” and if we cut out the [1006] words “by reason of some physical or mental infirmity”.

We meet the case very often of a man who has been not a very praise-worthy type of gentleman but we have the case of the man who has been supported by his wife for several years and who, although he may not be either physically or mentally afflicted, has just become a social misfit. He has just become incapable of work because he has been spoiled, shall we say, by his wife for several years and he would find himself a complete misfit on the labour market. I do not think such a man would come within subsection (2) of this section. He would be thrown on the scrap heap where some people, perhaps, harshly, might think he should be thrown. Nevertheless, I do not think that would be reasonable. He would not be entitled to anything under this section unless to a lump sum of £247.

I should be prepared to leave the subsection to read: “In the case of a widower who was, at the death of the deceased, incapable of self-support...” and to leave it to the Department, subject to the appeals which I shall be talking about afterwards, to decide.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Who would decide whether he was incapable of self-support?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Himself. Without the words “physical or mental infirmity”, apparently, it would be for himself to decide. In the case of the misfit, to whom Deputy Fitzpatrick refers, he will be granted a gratuity of £247 which will give him a reasonable time in which to rehabilitate himself, if he is so inclined. On the other hand, if he is just not capable of it, surely it would be because of some physical or mental infirmity.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I know people who have been walking to the office of the Department of Social Welfare for the past 20 years who are neither physically nor mentally afflicted. They are social misfits. They cannot get employment. They get a couple of weeks at Christmas on the relief grant. If they live the full working [1007] life to 65 or 70 years of age, they will never get work because they are social misfits. They have no place in the labour market. Nobody would employ them. Yet, I do not think any doctor could certify them as either physically or mentally handicapped within the meaning of this subsection. I think there is a place for a pension for such an unfortunate within this section.

If some unfortunate woman had been good enough to shoulder the burden of looking after her husband for many years and worked and earned a living and supported him, I think he is the sort of person who should come within this section.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I am afraid I could not agree with Deputy Fitzpatrick. I am aware that there are such people in existence. We have all, from time to time, met the fellow who marries and what he wants is a wife who will support him. We have all met that type of person. I think it would be wrong if we legislated in this House to provide that not alone should she support him during her life but that, as a result of her support, he would be entitled to a widower's pension. Some Fine Gael Deputies—and I think Deputy Fitzpatrick, also—asked that there should be a widower's pension just as there is a widow's pension. We thought it very amusing to suggest that we should include in this measure a pension for somebody not because he was not able to find work but because he did not want to work and that, because his deceased wife showed an aptitude for providing for the home and was therefore able to keep them in comfort, when she went on to her just reward, he should continue to benefit by what she had provided. I think that would be wrong. I think the State would be very wrong to provide for those things. Such persons would be entitled to certain assistance under a different heading in the code. I do not think we should legislate for that. Those people have votes, just as everybody else has. Thank God, there are very few of them in my constituency but, at the risk of annoying [1008] them, I would say I could not see eye to eye with Deputy Fitzpatrick's argument. If they are in that position, then, if the wife dies, they would have to fend for themselves and the State should not be asked to provide for them.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I am not speaking for the type of person who is able to work and will not work. I am speaking for a person who is a social misfit due to the sort of childhood or upbringing or education or lack of education he has had: all this usually goes back to the way in which these unfortunate people were brought up. We know them all over the country. They are to be found everywhere and, as I say, they become social misfits and dependent. I think the question here should be dependency. I will not accept for one moment that I am speaking on behalf of or advocating the case of the malingerer. If a man is fit for work and will not work, the State has no obligation to him. I am not suggesting the State should accept any responsibility for him, but I am saying that a man who, because of his mental incapacity—which does not fall within this section but is bordering on it— has become dependent on his wife should be entitled to the benefit provided in subsection (2) of this section.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I do not see how you can say that any person is incapable of work if he is not so incapable because of either physical or mental infirmity.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 19.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Amendments Nos. 63 and 64, in the name of Deputy Tully, have been discussed with amendment No. 46.

Amendments Nos. 63 and 64 not moved.

Question proposed: “That section 19 stand part of the Bill”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Children may be adopted after the death of a workman and still qualify? Is that not right?

[1009]Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I think so.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): That would appear to be the case under subclause (c) of this section.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Yes.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Yes.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 20.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Amendment No. 65, in the name of Deputy Tully, has been discussed with amendment No. 1.

Amendment No. 65 not moved.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I move amendment No. 66:

In subsection (2), page 17, line 6, to delete “twenty-four” and substitute “forty-eight”.

If I read the section correctly, it provides that, in the case of a parent, death benefit shall be a pension at the weekly rate of 24/-. I do not propose to make any long speech about this but it does appear that, in 1966, 24/-a week is hardly money at all and is certainly a very small pension to give to a parent of a deceased workman. The amount should be at least double that. In the case of a parent over 70 years of age who was entitled to an old age pension there might be some excuse for curtailing the amount of the pension under this Bill but there is just the bald statement that in the case of a parent, death benefit shall be a pension at the weekly rate of 24/-. Perhaps there is an explanation for it. Perhaps a parent is entitled to some other benefit but if the parent is not entitled to other benefit I say with considerable conviction that I regard 24/- per week as totally inadequate.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully This is one of the most extraordinary provisions. I am glad that Deputy Fitzpatrick has put down an amendment to the section. My only regret is that the amount mentioned in the amendment is also an amount which should not be acceptable to thinking people.

The section provides:

(1) A parent of the deceased shall [1010] be entitled to death benefit if, at the deceased's death, he or she was being wholly or mainly maintained by the deceased, or would but for the relevant accident have been so maintained.

(2) In the case of a parent, death benefit shall be a pension at the weekly rate of twenty-four shillings.

Would the Minister say if, in fact, some mistake has been made here? Let me pose this question. Take the case of a man living with his mother and maintaining her. He has an income of £10 to £12 per week. He maintains the household. The mother has no other income. The son is killed. The mother gets a pension of 24/- a week. Do I read the section correctly?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): That is what I want to know.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully On the death of the son the income of £10 to £12 a week disappears and the mother gets 24/- a week for the rest of her life. She is living in a council house the rent of which may be anything up to £3 per week. Where does the Bill lead to if that is the sort of provision it makes? Surely, we should be able to do something better than that? If there were other members of the family supporting the parent, if it were not a case of dependence, there might be something to be said but the words in the section are specific: “if he or she was being wholly or mainly maintained.” In that case the pension shall be 24/- per week. That might have been all right when farm workers' wages were 24/- a week, in 1936, but for 1966 the provision is just ludicrous. If a mistake has been made I suggest that the Minister could have a look at it and insert something which would be a great deal nearer the 1966 ideas than the paltry sum for which provision is made here.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I think Deputy Tully knows well that this is not a mistake. I cannot, of course, suggest that 24/-is adequate to maintain anybody but what was proposed by the minority of the commission in relation to this was a pension of 20/- a week. We have increased [1011] it here to 24/-. I thought Deputy Tully had made a very thorough examination of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland scheme. If his examination had been as thorough as it appeared to be, he would know that the rate of pension payable to a parent in Great Britain is actually less than this.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister has thrown my argument about parity overboard.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Twenty shillings is the rate for one parent and if both parents were supported by the deceased workman the rate is 15/- for each, which would be a maximum of 30/-, whereas here we are providing a rate of 24/-for one parent and if both are entitled, they would both get 24/-. Obviously, if there were no other support available to the parents concerned, they would have to get some other assistance as well from the State. I would also point out that this benefit may be payable in addition to a widow's pension. The total amount in that case in respect of adult dependants would be quite considerable.

No mistake has been made. The provision is in line with what is provided in other countries and, in fact, is better than what is provided in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and better than what was recommended by the minority of the Commission on Workmen's Compensation.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Both the Minister and Deputy Tully would probably arrive at a sounder conclusion if they approached the provisions in this Bill with complete disregard for what has happened in England and Northern Ireland and elsewhere and having regard to getting something here that is suitable to the needs of this country.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland A commission sat for six years on it.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): And the Minister has accepted what he liked and disregarded what he liked. When he finds a little bit of the commission's report that substantiates what he is [1012] doing, he accepts it. When the report is against him he throws it in the wastepaper basket.

The ambition of this House in putting through this piece of legislation should be to see that injured workmen are reasonably well provided for when they are rendered unable to work as a result of an accident and that dependants of deceased workmen who are killed in the course of their work will not be forced to seek home assistance. I think that is a reasonable proposition, and that this 24/- a week is ludicrous. I agree that even my amendment of 48/- a week is not sufficient, but at any rate it brings it up to the maximum rate of old age pension.

It should not be beyond the capabilities of the Minister and his advisers to draft an amendment to this section which will ensure that a dependent parent is not left hungry. If the parent is entitled to some other social welfare benefit, let it be a widow's pension or what have you, that could be taken into account.

I know a case of a widow—it is an extreme case, admittedly; nevertheless it is a case—who was deserted by her husband many years ago. She cannot qualify for a widow's pension because she cannot satisfy the Department that her husband is dead. She is not as young as she was.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully There is a case in Monaghan where the husband has been away for 36 years.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): This woman is in Cavan, and she is doing her best to establish the death of her husband. He was last seen over 20 years ago, I think, and he cannot be found. That woman has one son and he has a fairly good job, but if her son dies, is she to be presented with the princely sum of 24/- a week under this Bill? That is what she would get. She would not get a widow's pension, and she would qualify for 24/- only under this Bill.

It should be within the competence of the Minister, who is a full-time official, and his advisers, who are full-time officials, to devise a section that [1013] would ensure that a parent who loses a child who has been supporting him or her, will not be left hungry, and will not be left dependent on 24/- a week.

I do not want to appear sarcastic or offensive, but it should be possible to draft such a section without taking something out of an English Act of Parliament, or a Northern Ireland Act of Parliament. You could put in all the safeguards you like. As a matter of fact, that goes without saying because subsection (1) states:

A parent of the deceased shall be entitled to death benefit if, at the deceased's death, he or she was being wholly or mainly maintained by the deceased, or would but for the relevant accident have been so maintained.

You absolutely must have dependency, and if the Minister is afraid that the unfortunate parent might have too much money if he or she is given a pension of, say, £3 a week, he can always put in subsection (4) of section 16, suitably adapted, providing that a pension under the section shall cease to be payable if the parent becomes capable of self-support through some other means.

I really think subsection (2) of this section would not stand up to the light of day for five minutes. The people of the country would be shocked if they realised that a parent who is dependent on a child who is killed in the course of earning his living is to get a pension of only 24/- a week. I seriously and strongly appeal to the Minister to have another look at this. I do not know what is involved. I do not know whether a lot of money or not much money is involved, but whether much or little money is involved, if this section goes through as it is now, it will be a reflection on the Minister, on the Government, and on this House.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister was wondering whether I had gone through the British Acts as closely as he previously thought I had. I can assure him that if he wants to question me, I shall be only too glad to oblige him at any time. Deputy Fitzpatrick said we should be able to write in legislation [1014] ourselves without referring to British or Northern Ireland legislation. While we should be able to do that, at the same time in view of the fact that a commission inquired into this question and produced some evidence which resulted in this Bill coming before the House, I feel there is nothing wrong in using their experience.

It strikes me as rather peculiar that the Minister failed to include in this Bill any reference to special hardship allowances on the ground that the evidence in Britain and Northern Ireland was that they were not working properly and were costing a lot. He was perfectly entitled to do that if that was the evidence he had, which I doubt, but here is a case where he must know that the amount provided in Britain and Northern Ireland is entirely inadequate. Surely in view of their experience, he should have been able to devise some better means of compensation than this? If a man who is the breadwinner is killed during the course of his work and leaves a parent, say, his mother, who was entirely dependent on him, even if the rent of the house is £1, £2 or £3 per week, under this Bill the maximum which the State will give by way of compensation is 24/- per week. Widows' pensions are not payable for 50 different reasons.

What the Minister is suggesting is that where there is quite a happy family, where the son has a good job, with good wages, and is supporting his mother, and they are buying their own house, if that man is killed at work, all the State will give is 24/-a week, and the mother will be forced to apply for home assistance.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): It is not the State that gives it.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The State administers it. Unfortunately the State has the right to say how much will be given, and for that reason we may say the State is giving it. I believe this is something which could be dealt with. Unfortunately, I did not put down an amendment, but I am glad Deputy Fitzpatrick put down his amendment. [1015] I believe the amount mentioned in the amendment is far too small. The Minister might well have another look at this and see if he can do something to improve it because if it is not improved, this will be a very poor section in what might otherwise be a decent Bill.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland This concept of compensation for the parents of a workman killed at his work has developed along certain lines. Under the Workmen's Compensation Act, the total amount available for adult dependants was a maximum lump sum of £900 and the most the parents could do was to share in that amount. A commission sat on this matter of workmen's compensation for a considerable number of years and the minority recommended that there should be a pension of 20/- a week for each of the parents. I am proposing to provide 24/- a week for each parent and in this matter I did not follow the British scheme. If I had done so, I would have reduced the amount of 24/- in the event of both parents being qualified as the British have done. In Britain, it is 20/- a week for one parent and if there are two, it is 15/- a week each.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister beat them by 10/-.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland By 18/-, more than 50 per cent.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully It is still terribly poor.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland It is, but I am asked to adopt a completely different principle from what has been generally accepted up to now. The majority of the commission recommended that in the case of a deceased married workman, the sum of £50 be paid to each surviving parent or, in the case of one surviving parent, £100. In a case where the father or mother was wholly or mainly dependent on an unmarried workman, the recommendation was that a sum of £500 be paid to each parent. This assessment of the liability of the workman to his parents seems to be fairly general. I am being asked [1016] to adopt a completely different assessment. I should point out that there are other social welfare benefits available also. If the parents are more than 70 years of age, there is the old age pension.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully God help them if they are more than 70 years on 24/-a week.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Social welfare benefits are not taken into account in the assessment of means.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The 24/- a week will be counted. Of course it will.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland No, the 24/- would not be counted. Other social welfare payments are not taken into account in the assessment of means for old age pension purposes. I think I have done better than they have in Britain or Northern Ireland and in fact I have done better than recommended by the minority of the commission. I seem also to have done better than the majority of the commission recommended in the matter of a lump sum.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Minister now seeks to justify this miserable pension of 24/- a week by referring to the workmen's compensation code which we are replacing. In some respects, that code has a very parsimonious outlook, a very miserable approach to the necessities of injured workmen and their dependants, but whatever was to be said about the inadequacy of the compensation provided for injured workmen, the lump sum never was adequate to compensate dependants for the loss of the workman. The reason for that was that the code we are now replacing was a sort of patchwork quilt introduced first in 1934 when, as Deputy James Tully said, an agricultural workman earned about £1 a week.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully About 24/- a week.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): At the most, 25/- a week. Nothing has been done since, except on two occasions, to try to increase the benefits under that Act. The amount was increased [1017] to 37/6 on one occasion and later to £4 10s. I never thought the lump sum payment under that Act for adult dependants or indeed for juvenile dependants was adequate and in so far as those inadequate payments are replaced by reasonable payments under this Bill, I welcome it but I do not think the Minister believes 24/- a week is a sufficient payment for a dependent parent. I know the Minister does not think so but what will he do about it?

It is useless having the Minister standing up here and saying he provides a few shillings better than the minority report of the commission. The value of money has changed very considerably even since that report was issued. Any person living in a council house at the lowest possible differential rent in a town will pay about 14/-or 15/- a week rent and if he or she is mainly or wholly dependent on the child who has died, he or she will now be asked to live on 10/- a week. It does not hold water; it does not bear investigation.

As I say, it should be possible to make provision that where the parent is otherwise provided for, the pension should be reduced. That is provided for in section 20 (1). This subsection is a slur on any of the good provisions in the Bill. I do not know of any benefit a parent wholly dependent on a deceased workman can get other than what is commonly known as outdoor relief, home assistance from the county council, and we all have experience of the generosity, speaking sarcastically, with which that fund is administered. One would need to be on the verge of death by starvation to qualify for home assistance from most county councils. I do not know whether the Minister has considered what an increase to even the inadequate sum of 48/- a week would cost. I do not know how many totally dependent parents there are but the Minister has actuaries at his disposal to find out. Many parents could not be said to be wholly dependent or mainly dependent on married workmen. I think the number of parents wholly and mainly dependent on their employed children must be comparatively few and I appeal to the Minister to reconsider this subsection [1018] before Report Stage and tell the House what it would cost, how many people are likely to be involved and how he thinks a parent who was totally dependant on a deceased workman should supplement this 24/- a week.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland As I have said, I never suggested for a moment that 24/- a week is sufficient to maintain anybody. I was quite clear at all times that if there were no other sources of support available to parents in such circumstances, they would have to get some other assistance. However, I think I did reasonably well in taking into consideration both what is paid elsewhere and what was recommended by both the minority and the majority of the commission. In this respect I think the majority recommendations are relevant here. The majority of the commission recommended that a maximum lump sum of £100 be paid in respect of surviving parents of a married workman and that as much as £500 be paid in respect of the parents of an unmarried workman. That seems to recognise the fact that if a man is married obviously his commitment in respect of his parents would be less than if he was unmarried. The proportion of his wages that would be available for the support of his parents would be less if he had a wife and possibly a family, to support.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The parents would not be wholly or mainly dependent on him.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland The total death benefit that would be payable in respect of a married man's adult dependants could be 95/- for his widow plus increases for child dependants and 48/- in respect of his parents. I think the most I could undertake to do to meet Deputy Fitzpatrick's point would be to consider, between now and the Report Stage, whether I could increase this amount of 24/- in respect of the parents of an unmarried workman.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): If the Minister would do that, it would probably go a long way because the unmarried workman is the person who is most likely to be wholly or [1019] mainly supporting his parents. There is one last point I should like to make. I think this is something which is particularly peculiar or dear to the Irish approach to this thing. Most Irish people, in general, have a high regard for their parents. They look after them and regard it as a moral obligation, apart altogether from a legal obligation. If we approach this matter from any other aspect, then we do less than justice to the mentality of the Irish workers who, as I say, regard it as a moral obligation, apart altogether from a legal obligation, to look after the welfare of their parents. I am glad the Minister has agreed to have another look at the case of the parent who is wholly or mainly dependent on the children. That will usually be the case of the unmarried workman.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Might I add one small argument? I know a case of a man who lives with his mother and sister. The mother has been ill for quite a long time. The father owned a small shop which had to be sold shortly after his death because they could not run it. The son is a road ganger and earns slightly over £10 a week. He supports his mother and sister who keeps house. The rent is 21/- a week. Is it suggested, if he was unfortunate enough to be killed—I hope he will not because he is a good supporter of mine—that they would be adequately compensated by getting 24/- a week? What would they do with the 3/- left over? Would they be expected to live on that 3/- after they had paid the rent because if they could do so, then the Taoiseach should interview them as well as the trade union representatives?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): They could buy mothballs for the 3/-and sell them.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 67 not moved.

Sections 20 and 21 agreed to.

SECTION 22.

Question proposed: “That section 22 stand part of the Bill”.

[1020]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I should like the Minister to tell us exactly what subsection (2) of this section means. The subsection reads:

In any such case as may be specified by regulations, the reference to fifty pounds in subsection (1) of this section shall be construed as a reference to such amount less than fifty pounds as may be specified by the regulations for that case.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The amount will be cut down provided there is a cheap sale of coffins.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland It is intended to provide in those regulations—this refers to regulations which will be made— that where the deceased leaves a next-of-kin the full amount of £50 will be paid but where there is no next-of-kin the vouched expenses of the funeral will be payable, subject to a maximum of £50. Presumably it could happen that there would be no next-of-kin and in such a case only the vouched expenses will be paid. Nobody will make a profit because only the vouched expenses will be paid.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Does that mean that where a person has no next-of-kin he is to get a pauper's funeral?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland If the vouched expenses come to £50 the full amount will be paid.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I understand what it means.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Somebody would pay the funeral expenses.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): It is clear enough now.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully It seems reasonable to me. Subsection (3) reads:

Except where regulations otherwise provide, a grant under this section shall not be payable in respect of a death occurring outside the State.

The reason I am raising the point here is that in a former section the Minister [1021] agreed to it. Would he agree to the same principle here? If somebody is employed by a resident of this State and he is injured or killed while driving a cattle lorry across the Border or walking across the Border with a horse or a tractor what happens? Another section deals with injuries but not with death.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I think the way it is put here is the way the Deputy wanted it in the other section. It says here “except where regulations otherwise provide”. I think either Deputy Tully or Deputy Fitzpatrick wanted to substitute this for other words in a previous section. They are here already.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister agreed it would be interpreted that way. Would the Minister guarantee that he will have his regulations framed in such a way as to cover someone who gets killed?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland They will be the same.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully There is no point in saying that provision is made and it can be done if the regulations are made. Will it cover somebody who is killed outside the State with regard to compensation?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Those regulations will extend to such a provision in the circumstances mentioned. Perhaps I might mention here again that we are ahead of the British provision.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully It is not a bad idea to benefit by mistakes after 15 years.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland We are ahead of them.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully That is the way we should be. They will have to increase their benefits to keep up with ours.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I thought it might be no harm to refer to it here.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 23

Amendment No. 68 not moved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin There [1022] are several cognate amendments. Amendments Nos. 69, 72, 74 and 96 are cognate and may be discussed together, if the Deputy agrees.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I move amendment No. 69:

In subsection (2), page 18, line 11, to substitute “shall” for “may”.

Subsection (2) of this section gives the Minister power to prescribe that certain injuries or diseases shall be deemed to be industrial diseases or injuries coming within the provisions of this Bill. I object to the word “may” because the section goes on to specify certain things which clearly make the disease in question a scheduled disease, as we called it in the old workmen's compensation code. This section is an enabling section which enables the Minister to prescribe an industrial disease for the purposes of the Act. I think the word “may” should read “shall”. I do not think there is any great argument necessary. If the disease in question otherwise measures up to the old dermatitis standard we had, the Minister should then be obliged to prescribe it as a disease entitling the workman to the beneficial provisions of this Bill.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I intend to make those regulations. I have no objection to changing it to “shall”, although there are some cases where regulations are mentioned and it is not yet decided whether they will be made or not but, in this case here, it is intended to make the regulations. “May” seems to me to be sufficient but, if Deputy T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan) insists on “shall”——

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I would prefer it. From the point of view of the House and of the Oireachtas, I think, if we are saying that these are diseases which come within the beneficial provisions of the Act, we should say so; the House should say so and the Oireachtas should say so. Otherwise, there is a tendency in the opposite direction and that is what I am not too happy about. I am not saying there is anything sinister about [1023] it but there is a tendency in Departments to pass legislation through this House and then hand it over to the Minister to implement or not implement, as he likes, by regulation. I know perfectly well the Minister intends to make these regulations and I accept his word on that, but this is the House which is enacting legislation and we should only defer things to regulations which cannot conveniently be enacted or decided in this House; in other words, we should preserve as much as we can, for as long as we can, the supremacy of Parliament and the Oireachtas. That is the point I have been making.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland The only reservation I have is that by putting in “shall” in this case instead of “may”, it may appear as if—everywhere the possibility of making regulations is mentioned—it was intended that regulations should actually be made. I mentioned, in the case of one section already, where the phraseology used was “for such cases as regulations so provide”, that it had not been decided whether in fact these regulations were necessary to be made at all. If, in this case, we put in “shall” instead of “may” it might be argued that all the regulations mentioned were intended to be obligatory. However, I have no objection in this case.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 70 and 71 not moved.

Question proposed: “That section 23, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully In my opinion, this is one of the most important sections of this Bill because it deals with the second type of thing which comes under workmen's compensation, that is, the list of diseases which are scheduled under the Act. I wonder does the Minister intend to add to the list of prescribed diseases, or has he had an up-to-date list prescribed? He may remember that last week I mentioned here, on another section, a situation of the man who is using chemicals for, say, controlling weeds and, because of the fact that on the [1024] tin from which the chemical is taken there is a definite notice saying it is not injurious to the skin, could be used freely, very little precaution is taken. Months afterwards the person starts to get dermatitis, or some other skin disease and, in many cases, it is impossible to trace it back to the use of the chemical.

I have one case in mind where a foreign firm, supplying it through agents here, changed the type of chemical they had been using. In fact when the chemical being used now was analysed, it was found it did not contain any injurious matter at all. It subsequently turned out that they had changed it and the previous type of chemical was, in fact, very injurious and had caused dermatitis. In this case the workmen's compensation under existing legislation failed. I wonder if the Minister is satisfied that this sort of thing is adequately covered? To me it appears that it is covered.

I should like the Minister's reassurance on another matter, that is, the question of the person who has been in receipt of compensation. The Minister mentioned last week that it was covered in a certain way, that is, in respect of the person who, under existing legislation, is in receipt of compensation, either through an insurance company which goes broke or through a private individual who is not insured, who is carrying his own insurance up to the passing of this Bill and is paying workmen's compensation to an individual who has suffered an injury or some sort of disease and he goes broke. Is there nothing except the ordinary social welfare benefit? There is no provision being made in this section, as I read it, to cover that type of case. The person ceases to have any right to workmen's compensation and falls into the ordinary social welfare category. Would the Minister say if my reading of the section is correct, or is there anything he can do to remedy that situation?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland With regard to the first question, the Deputy may have no doubt that the cases he has mentioned will be covered. The existing list will be extended to cover pneumoconiosis [1025] in all mining operations and Weil's disease. The scope will be enlarged so as to cover dermatitis caused by inhalation, vapour or other external agent capable of irritating the skin, provided that the disease is due to the nature of the workman's employment.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Does that cover the dermatitis which is caused by the action of chemical on the person's hands?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland So long as it is by the nature of his employment. Deputy James Tully may take it that, generally speaking, we will adhere to the Employment Injuries Convention of 1964.

With regard to the question of an existing recipient of workmen's compensation, where the insurance company concerned, or the employer, is no longer able to pay, the position at the moment is that such a person will only be entitled to the appropriate amount of disability benefit, less the amount of workmen's compensation to which he is entitled. But from now on, he will be entitled to the full amount of disability benefit. That is as much as we can reasonably hope for and it is an improvement in the position. A person who is getting workmen's compensation will get the full amount of disability benefit in addition thereto. If for some reason or other the amount of workmen's compensation is no longer payable, then he will have to depend on the disability benefit.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully It seems hard luck on him but I can appreciate the Minister's difficulty.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 24.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Amendment No. 72 was discussed with amendment No. 69.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I move amendment No. 72:

In subsection (1), page 19, line 22, to substitute “shall” for “may”.

The same principle applies here and the same good reason for substituting the word “shall” for “may”.

[1026]Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I will accept that.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I move amendment No. 73:

In subsection (1), page 19, at the end of paragraph (b) to add “or”; and between lines 32 and 33 to insert a new paragraph as follows:

“(c) before the passing of this Act while in employment sustained personal injury by accident which resulted in serious and permanent disablement who were not entitled to compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Acts.”

This section proposes to entitle certain workmen to unemployability supplements. One class of workmen are those who:

(a) are or have been on or after the 1st day of October, 1965, entitled in respect of any injury or disease to weekly payments by way of compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, and

(b) as the result of the injury or disease are, or could for the purpose of the provisions of this Act relating to unemployability supplement be treated as being, incapable of work and likely to remain permanently so incapable.

I want the Minister, through this amendment, to add another class to paragraph (a) of this section and that is the type of person who has been unsuccessful in a workmen's compensation application, unsuccessful because of some technicality which the Minister has brushed aside in this code. The phrase “arising out of and in the course of his employment” gave rise to endless legal battles, some of which the workman lost and as a result was deprived of workmen's compensation. My plea is that that type of person should be included in this section.

There was a case recently which went from the Circuit Court to the Supreme Court under the usual voluntary free legal aid that we have and eventually the workman lost. I have not got the details of the case with [1027] me but I can have them for Report Stage. I understand that the workman lost on some very technical point, something like misconduct, which the Minister has brushed aside in this measure. I can do no more than ask the Minister, if he is not prepared to accept this amendment, to look into it carefully either with a view to accepting it or putting down an amendment of his own on Report Stage.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland In the first instance, I do not think the amendment would do what Deputy Fitzpatrick wants. Worded as it is, paragraph (c) would not be an alternative to paragraph (a) or paragraphs (a) and (b) combined.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I think it is probably badly drafted. It is meant to be an addition to paragraph (a) which would then be followed by paragraph (b).

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland The idea then is to re-open unsuccessful cases of application for workmen's compensation?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I am afraid that is the substance of it. There would have to be certain limits.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland What limits? What Deputy Fitzpatrick is asking is something that is just not practicable. It would mean that any case in which it had already been decided that a person is not entitled under the Workmen's Compensation Acts could be reopened under this Bill.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): On a defence which is now swept aside by this Bill.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister is bound to have some difficulty in over-lapping cases which will occur about the appointed day and which have been decided. There are bound to be a great many cases which could not fall to be decided until after the appointed day. The Minister does refer to cases like this which can be included. Whether or not what Deputy Fitzpatrick suggests would re-open every workmen's compensation case in which a person felt he had been ruled [1028] out by something which is changed in this Bill is another matter.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland I could not reasonably be asked to do this. I have made it clear that cases which arise before the appointed day will have to be dealt with under the existing Workmen's Compensation Acts. It would be impossible to assess the likely cost of doing what Deputy Fitzpatrick suggests.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I shall withdraw the amendment now and consider whether or not I should put it down again for Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Amendment No. 74 was discussed with amendment No. 69.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I move amendment No. 74:

In subsection (2), page 19, line 38, to substitute “shall” for “may”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 24, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 25.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Amendment No. 75 was discussed with amendment No. 1.

Amendment No. 75 not moved.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I move amendment No. 76:

In subsection (3), page 20, lines 37 and 38, to substitute “forty shillings” for “fifteen shilling and sixpence”; and in line 39 to substitute “sixty shillings” for “twenty-three shillings”.

The object of this amendment is to increase the 15/6 a week to 40/-. I shall withdraw this amendment for the moment and look into it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I move amendment No. 77:

In subsection (4), page 20, line 43, after “remuneration” to insert “(including bonus earnings)”.

[1029] In section 25, subsection (4), line 43, there appears to be something which needs alteration. The subsection states:

For the purposes of the foregoing subsections of this section, the weekly earnings of a person from insurable (occupational injuries) employment at the time of the relevant accident shall be the rate of his remuneration at that time for a full normal working week in the employment in which the accident occurred, overtime being disregarded for this purpose, or, if he was not employed full time in that employment at the time of the relevant accident, the rate of remuneration which would be provided by his employer for a full normal working week in that employment overtime being disregarded.

I suggest that after the word “remuneration” we should insert “including bonus earnings”. The Minister is aware that quite a number of people in employment at present are in receipt of wages plus bonus earnings. If we take this as it is written at present, it could happen that somebody whose basic wage was £10 a week and who could be getting bonus earnings of perhaps £5 a week, would have his benefit based on the £10 and the £5 might be completely disregarded. The Minister should include bonus earnings in this.

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland It is not necessary because bonuses will, in fact, be included. It is quite clear already that that is established.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Where is it clear?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland In regard to the Principal Act, the term “remuneration” as used in the existing Acts is dealt with in paragraph (1) of Part II of the First Schedule which excepts from insurance employment otherwise than by way of manual labour at a rate of remuneration exceeding £1,200 a year. The interpretation of that term for the purposes of that section has been taken to include not only payments made specifically for services rendered but also payments, such as bonuses, which form a regular feature of the employment [1030] and which the worker may reasonably expect to receive. It is already the practice under the Social Welfare Act to take bonuses into consideration in assessing remuneration.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Does the Minister intend to continue that practice?

Mr. Boland: Information on Kevin Boland Zoom on Kevin Boland Yes.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.


Last Updated: 27/04/2015 09:10:50 First Page Previous Page Page of 63 Next Page Last Page