HL Deb 28 April 1948 vol 155 cc461-2

2.8 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government the question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government, whether the negotiations with the Government of Eire have resulted in any effective action to bring those Volunteers from Eire who were previously debarred from special benefit under the Unemployment Insurance (Eire Volunteers) Act, 1946, within the scope of the arrangement for the payment of benefit.]


My Lords, I am glad to say that the negotiations with the Government of Eire have resulted in bringing those Eire volunteers discharged in the summer of 1945 within the scope of the arrangements under the Unemployment Insurance (Eire Volunteers) Act, 1946, and Part II of the corresponding Unemployment Insurance Act, 1946, in Eire. It has been possible, after consultation, to give a wider interpretation to the terms of the two Acts. The effect of this is to bridge the gap caused by the date on which those Acts were brought into operation and to enable Eire volunteers who were demobilised on or after July 23, 1945, to satisfy the contribution condition subject to thirty weeks' service in the British Forces commencing on any date between September 3, 1939, and August 15, 1945.

The widest publicity has been given by the Government of Eire to this change, and we have co-operated on this side. I am happy to inform your Lordships that, as a result, 189 claims have been received, 170 of which have been allowed. Of the remaining cases, only nine have been rejected on the grounds that the contribution conditions were not satisfied, and ten have failed because there was, in fact, no service with the British Forces during the period of hostilities. Your Lordships will be interested to know that altogether, up to March 31, 1948, 4,461 successful claims to special benefit have been made.


My Lords, I should like to thank the Government, in the name of those who benefit by the act of justice which has now been done. It will bring great satisfaction to many Irish homes, the menfolk of which have long traditions with the British Forces and a glorious career behind them. I should also like to think the Leader of the House for the interest he has taken in this matter.