Seanad Éireann - Volume 27 - 27 May, 1943
Unemployment Insurance Bill, 1943—Committee and Final Stages.
Mr. Douglas Mr. Douglas
Mr. Douglas: I move amendment No. 1:—
In sub-section (1), paragraph (b), to delete all words after the word “State” in line 22 to the end of the paragraph and substitute therefor the words: “within such period as shall be prescribed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce by Order made under this Act, which period shall not be less than one year nor more than three years after the expiration of the emergency period.”
I made the case for the principle underlying this amendment on the Second Stage and I am more than ever convinced now that it would be much more desirable not to confine the period during which the Bill is to operate to one year after the expiration of the emergency. My reason is that I am not at all satisfied—though I very much hope it may be the case— that we shall be in a position one year after the emergency to find employment for all the people who may return here. If we are not going to be in that position, then we should not do anything to discourage anybody who can still find work away from this country, from doing so. I think it will probably be found necessary at some future time, if not now, to extend the period of one year. I indicated on the Second Reading that I was strongly in favour of the principle of the Bill which I think has much to recommend it and the amendment is intended to be constructive and not in any way to mitigate the usefulness of the Bill.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Grady) Seán O'Grady
 Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Grady): I regret that I must oppose this amendment as, in existing circumstances, it would not be possible to accept it. It would lead to certain technical difficulties in draftsmanship and it would not be possible to have it implemented in the immediate future. That in turn would result in imposing hardships on some persons who would otherwise benefit by the Bill, and in the circumstances I would ask the Senator not to press the amendment. The object of the Bill, of course, is to provide this benefit, on their return, for persons who have been temporarily absent from the country. The point which Senator Douglas is seeking to make can, when the necessity arises, be dealt with by a subsequent amendment of this Bill. A short Bill can be drafted to amend it if and when the occasion arises, but, in present circumstances, for the reasons I have stated, it would be impossible to implement it in the present Dáil.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: Do I understand the Parliamentary Secretary to reject the amendment because it would involve expenditure?
Mr. O'Grady Mr. O'Grady
Mr. O'Grady: No. It is not merely a question of expenditure; it is a question of draftsmanship and printing and all that kind of thing. As the House is aware, the Dáil has adjourned sine die, and if this Bill were to be referred back it would cause difficulties and complications. In any case, if and when the occasion arises, an amending Bill can be brought forward just as easily as this Bill has been introduced.
Mr. Douglas Mr. Douglas
Mr. Douglas: If the Parliamentary Secretary had told us that the Dáil has adjourned and that he does not want to bring it back again, I could at least have understood it, but, when he tells us that there are draftsmanship difficulties and does not indicate what they are, he leaves me utterly and absolutely unconvinced. I can quite see that there may be reasons why he does not want to go to the expense of summoning the Dáil, which is still in existence, and that, if a  blunder has been made or, rather, if there has been a failure to see certain possibilities, it is less expensive to bring in another Bill later on. That I could understand, but for the life of me I cannot see why the drafting office should have any difficulty in drafting an amendment on these lines even if mine were not absolutely correct. Those who have seen the kind of complicated amendments which they have succeeded in drafting will find it extremely difficult to believe that they could not draft one to meet this point. The Parliamentary Secretary has completely failed to convince me that there would be serious difficulties, but, because I am not prepared to advocate calling the Dáil specially for this amendment, I am prepared to withdraw it if the House agrees. At the same time, I should like to say that we should not wait until the end of the emergency to deal with this matter. When people abroad become aware of the fact that, if they do not come back here within a year, they will lose what may be very considerable benefit, you will find that, rather than continue their jobs there for three or six months or indefinitely, they will just come back right away. Therefore, this is not a matter which should be left over until the need arises; if there is anything in this point—I believe there is —it should be met at an earlier date. However, with permission of the House, I am prepared to withdraw the amendment because, as I have said, I am not prepared to advocate calling the Dáil to deal with it.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: Before permission is given to withdraw the amendment, I want to point out that this Bill gives more justice to a great number of people who had to go away under circumstances over which they had no control. Had they remained here, they would have been a burden on the State through drawing unemployment benefit, but they chose to go abroad to seek employment, and it would be a grave injustice to those people to deny them their undoubted rights to benefit if they return here after the expiration of the 12 months' period. As far as I can, I should like to ensure that those  people will have their rights reserved for them, whether they remain outside the country one or two or three years. I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary has justified his action in this matter. He bases his opposition on draftsmanship difficulties and so on. I do not think there is any foundation for that. I think he should declare his sympathy with this amendment, and state that, if his Party returns to power, they will put the matter right. At any rate, I should like to see somebody committed to ensuring that justice will be done to those people when they return. Before permission is given, I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to be more definite on that aspect of the matter.
Mr. O'Grady Mr. O'Grady
Mr. O'Grady: I hope any words of mine did not create the impression that there was some insurmountable difficulty of draftsmanship involved in this very simple measure. There is no such thing. It is really a question of the time factor. No matter what amendment were made, if it were unanimously accepted, it would mean that certain adjustments would have to be made and the Bill, of course, would have to go back to the Dáil for approval. That is the principal reason why I am opposing this amendment of Senator Douglas. With regard to the points made by Senator Foran, I think the mere fact that we have introduced this Bill should be sufficient assurance to anybody that the intention is to give justice to those people who are compelled by circumstances at the moment to emigrate in order to get employment and to ensure that the contributions which they have already to their credit at the time of departure will provide for them certain benefits to which they would be entitled had they never left the country. That is the intention of the Bill, as previously explained. I think the fact that it has been introduced and has not been opposed by any Party in either House of the Oireachtas, should be adequate proof, if proof were necessary, that no matter who may come back after this adjournment, all Parties will be in agreement with the principle. The principle is to do justice to those people who are compelled to leave the  country temporarily and I do not think any Party will object to that.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 1, 2 and the Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Agreed to take the Fourth Stage now.
Question—“That the Bill be received for final consideration”—put and agreed to.
Agreed to take the Fifth Stage now.
Question—“That the Bill do now pass”—put and agreed to.
Ordered: That the Bill be returned to the Dáil without amendment.
Seanad Éireann 27 Unemployment Insurance Bill, 1943—Committee and Final Stages.