In view of the answers which I got from the Minister for Local Government to questions which I put him with regard to the interpretation of the word "livelihood" in the Dental Act, I am forced to oppose this Vote out of the Central Fund, and I would like the House to understand the position in which I find myself. On page 815 of the Dáil Debates, 18th July last, when the Dental Bill came back from the Seanad for final acceptance in this House, I particularly asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who was responsible for the Bill in both Houses, this question: "Does that mean that it will allow the Dental Board to have a certain discretion and that the 10 years would include the apprenticeship years?"— and the answer I got from the Minister was: "Certainly." I quite understand that the position is that once an Act leaves this House, and is put to a Department, or to different people to work, they must, of necessity, translate or interpret each word according to the exact legal interpretation, but I would point out also, that if any person feels himself aggrieved with regard to the interpretation of such word, and goes to law the Courts will decide the interpretation according to the sense in which that Act was passed—according to the sense in which the word was supposed to be interpreted.
Now, I do not believe that the Minister intended that young men who are excluded from sitting for the examination should have to go through that course, and to put that expense on their shoulders in order to have their positions clarified, and I would ask the Minister to do the easy and the simple thing, and do what I believe was intended by him —to allow such men who could ordinarily prove that they were ten years engaged at dentistry, but of which ten years a certain number of years was at apprenticeship, to sit for the examination. I do not ask nor suggest to the Minister that they should be given the right to be on the dental register. At the time this Bill came back from the other House the Minister was well aware of the position, and there are Senators who also understood the position as I understand it, who were interested in this Bill when it was going through. We all understood that apprenticeship years would count, that if a person could prove that he was engaged at dentistry for ten years he would have a right to sit for the examination, and if the examiners found him competent they would pass him for inclusion on the dental register. Now, the position is that the representative of the Dental Board with whom I have been in touch, with whom Senators have been in touch, states that they cannot possibly interpret this word in any other way than the way it has been interpreted. That may be so, but on the other hand what was the sense of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in giving the answer he gave to the question I put him? I refer the Minister to his answer to my question on page 815 of the Dáil debates of July 18th.