PUBLIC CHARITABLE HOSPITALS (TEMPORARY PROVISIONS) BILL.

Before saying anything concerning this Bill, which I have the honour to introduce, permit me, on behalf of the Dublin Hospitals Committee, to return their thanks in permitting me to bring forward this Bill. No doubt, a few points may be raised against this Bill, but I am confident that so many good points will be raised in its favour that they will easily overcome whatever minor objections may be raised. It may be urged that the time is not suitable, owing to the unstable conditions of the country at present, but, I submit, with all due respect that it is because of the unstable conditions that the necessity for the introduction of this Bill arises. The matter is a very urgent one, and brooks of no delay. I am not going to weary the Dáil in endeavouring to point out to it what the hospitals in Ireland have done in the National cause during the last few years. It is well known to you all that the hospitals of Ireland, and particularly the metropolitan hospitals have, like many of our public institutions, suffered grievously in many respects, especially from a financial standpoint. Now, I, for one, would not support this Bill, and would not ask any member of the Dáil to give it his support unless I was satisfied that the matter was a very pressing and a very grave one, and, furthermore I would not ask anybody's support unless I was sure that the objects of this Bill were going to be carried out in a businesslike and able manner. It may be a matter of historical interest to the Dáil to learn that this question of public sweepstakes is not unknown to Ireland. In pre-Union days I understand that large undertakings were carried out, and public buildings were erected out of funds raised by this means. We crave then the indulgence of this Dáil, and I think it will be admitted that we intend in some manner, if we are fortunate enough in getting this Bill through, to take a weight off the shoulders of the Minister for Finance. As I have said, owing to the unstable conditions at present we cannot hope for any large amount of money for the hospitals, and it will considerably lighten the burden of the various Departments if this Bill goes through. There is no doubt the Bill is urgently required. Another objection to this Bill may be raised, and it may be said that legislation has been enacted already. That may be. We are not asking you to pull down any legislation; we are simply asking you to open the legislative door, so to speak, very slightly, and if at any time the Executive are not satisfied with the way in which things are carried on, they can lock and bolt the legislative door at once, and that settles the matter. I will not bore you by reiterating any other points of this Bill, but I earnestly appeal to members of the Dáil to support it, and I am sure when the matter has been discussed and looked at from every angle members will realise that there is an urgency and a grave necessity for the passing of this Bill.

I am going to second the proposal of Dr. White in introducing this Bill, but I am not going to do more than suggest this—that what we are seeking now is merely permission to have the Bill printed and circulated, in order that members can become conversant with its terms. What Deputy White has said must be obvious to everyone. The truth of it must be obvious. These establishments, which do so much for humanity, must get financial support. In the main, I understand, their sources of such support have been voluntary, and the conditions that have come about—unhappy conditions of turmoil—have almost dried up the sources of that financial support at a time when the strain on these institutions was becoming more severe than ever. It is undoubtedly a fact that large revenues can be collected by the means suggested in this Bill, and that these means are going to help suffering humanity and place these institutions in a position to carry on their work for the noble purposes for which they have been erected, and for which they have done so much. This cannot be a party measure. It cannot even be a question of controversy. In view of the necessity of securing adequate financial assistance for these institutions we ask the Dáil for permission for a first reading of the Bill, in order that it may be printed and circulated, and that at a later stage the details and arguments for and against it may be enlarged upon.

I think the Standing Orders provide that this motion should proceed without amendment or debate, but a short statement may be made against it by the Minister for Home Affairs before a vote is taken, if it is intended to take a vote.

Mr. O'HIGGINS

I realise that this is a first and not a second reading, and that one should confine oneself to a minimum of comment, but I want to make it clear, from the outset, that there is very little likelihood now that this Bill can receive anything but opposition from me in the position which I hold. I have given enough examination and investigation to the question of sweepstakes to realise that it would be almost impossible to close all the loopholes of corruption and fraud, and if this Bill comes along and says that the sweep shall be run under conditions and regulations to be approved of by the Minister for Home Affairs, the Minister for Home Affairs will have much satisfaction in opposing the Bill, and saying that he does not propose to put on his Department the work of trying to devise conditions and regulations which would do, or attempt to do, a thing which he regards as well-nigh impossible.

On a point of order, sir, you said that on matters of this kind—I am not speaking about the Bill—that a debate should not be allowed. I believe it is the custom in a good many other places that a first reading should be allowed so that members should have an opportunity without committing themselves of examining the provisions of the Bill. I think that custom prevails in other places and I do urge that it is a custom we might with advantage adopt in this place.

What point of order am I called upon to decide?

Whether it is to be accepted that a first reading is accorded a Bill once it is set down in the Orders of the day.

The Standing Orders decide that. No decision from me is necessary.

Motion made and question put: "That leave be given to introduce the Public Charitable Hospitals (Temporary Provisions) Bill, 1923."

The Dáil divided:—Tá, 37; Níl, 12.

  • Donchadh Ó Guaire.
  • Uáitéar Mac Cumhaill.
  • Seán Ó Maolruaidh.
  • Seán Ó Duinnín.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • Riobárd Ó Deaghaidh.
  • Peadar Mac a' Bháird.
  • Darghal Figes.
  • Seán Ó Ruanaidh.
  • Ailfrid Ó Broin.
  • Sir Séamus Craig, Ridire, M.D.
  • Gearóid Mac Giobúin, K.C.
  • Tomás Ó Conaill.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Criostóir Ó Broin.
  • Séamus Eabhróid.
  • Ristéard Mac Liam.
  • Liam Ó Daimhín.
  • Próinsias Bulfin.
  • Séamus Ó Dóláin.
  • Aindriú Ó Laimhín.
  • Seán Ó Laidhin.
  • Próinsias Mag Aonghusa.
  • Cathal Ó Seanáin.
  • Eamon Ó Dúgáin.
  • Peadar Ó hAodha.
  • Séamus Ó Murchadha.
  • Seosamh Mac Giolla Bhrighde.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Uinseann de Faoite.
  • Seán Buitléir.
  • Domhnall Ó Broin.
  • Nioclás Ó Faoláin.
  • Domhnall Ó Muirgheasa.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Mícheál Ó Dubhghaill.
  • Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.

Níl

  • Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Deasmhumhain Mac Gearailt.
  • Liam Ó Briain.
  • Liam Thrift.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Pádraig Ó hÓgain.
  • Fionán Ó Loingsigh.
  • Séamus Ó Cruadhlaoich.
  • Aodh Ó Cúláchain.
  • Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.
  • Earnán de Blaghd.

Before the motion for the adjournment is taken I should like to say that I take it that the Committee Stage of the Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Bill will be resumed on Friday, as tomorrow's Order Paper is already in print. It contains ten sections of the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Bill.

In view of the vote of the Dáil—the very serious vote of the Dáil—I suggest to the Ministry the advisability of appointing a Minister for Sweeps and Lotteries.