June 24th, 1912


FROM THE ARCHIVES:The British government’s introduction of social insurance a century ago brought much grumbling from employers in Ireland, including households that employed domestic servants, as these letters to the editor exemplify.

Sir – “Mistress” writes in today’s Irish Times urging the employers to withstand this unjust and unwarranted measure. What we want here in Ireland is a lead to show us the best way of resisting it. The Duchess of Somerset says: “I will have nothing to do with cards or stamps. The whole country cannot be fined and imprisoned.”

Let some ladies in Ireland take steps to form a society similar to that of the Duchess, and we will join it in thousands.

We mistresses sympathise fully with our servants, and would be only too glad to subscribe and help them on a different plan. They cannot see why they should be made to pay for benefits which they already possess – Yours, etc.,

Another Mistress

Dublin, June 24th, 1912

Sir, – I read in your paper the other day that, at the Unionist meeting held in Waterford, Sir William Goff said that he was not going to begin to tax his employés, and was going to pay their contributions for them. Now, I venture to submit that this is a mistaken view to take of this most unfortunate Act. If there is a redeeming point in it, it is, in my opinion, that the employés have to pay their share. It tends to awaken their sense of responsibility, and make them take a little interest in affairs that are not purely local, and though it may be rather a rude awakening for some of them, I do not think the employers ought to relieve them of it in a single instance. We have always prided ourselves on being a free people, but it seems to me that, when we are forced to become tax-collectors for a Government that many of us despise and detest, we run a serious risk of forfeiting our freedom. –Yours etc.,


June 24th, 1912

Sir, – Now that we have received the explanatory pamphlets concerning the working of the National Insurance Act, we should be grateful to the Government if they would send along an explanation of the explanations. Under the heading, “Employed persons who are excluded from compulsory insurance” appears the following: “Children employed by their parents without wages, and persons who are maintained by their employers, without wages.”

In Part VII appears the following: “Persons who receive no wages or other money payments either from their employer or from other persons (e.g., a housekeeper who receives board and lodgings only in return for her service).” The employer of a person in this class is required to pay the whole contribution, and can recover no part of it from the worker.

I have sought for an explanation of these two contradictory clauses, but have sought in vain.–Yours, etc.,

R. S. Roberts.

Dublin, 24th June, 1912