I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. This is a Bill to amend the Public Charitable Hospitals Act, 1930. The first important amendment is embodied in Section 2. Deputies are aware that only a certain class of hospital can participate in the proceeds of the sweepstakes which are held for the benefit of the hospitals. Section 2 proposes to enlarge that class by five specified hospitals. These are hospitals that could not participate owing to the wording of Section 1 (2) of the Principal Act. The first of these hospitals is Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, which, I am informed has, up to this, been used largely as a sanatorium. It is now being altered and is to be used as a hospital for adult tubercular patients suffering from bone disease. It is to do very much the same work as hospital No. 5, St. Mary's Open Air Hospital, Cappagh, does for children. I am informed that the work done in that hospital is admirable, and that an hospital of a similar nature for adults is badly needed. Another institution which is to participate is Peamount Sanatorium, Hazelhatch. There a new village settlement has been started which will enable consumptive patients to live there either in houses or in hostels and to do a considerable amount of work towards their own support. At present I believe that some of the patients living in that village settlement, which is only in its infancy, are able to earn sums of money which not only pay for their own support but, at the same time, enable them either to put by money or to contribute to the support of their people at home. That seems to me to be a most deserving work. Another hospital which it is suggested should participate is the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital. That hospital does a great deal of charitable work, but a great part of the work is done through dispensaries. It is very much the same class of hospital as, say, the Dental Hospital, which the House already agreed to make special provision for in the Principal Act. Another hospital is St. Anne's Hospital, Northbrook Road. This is not a very large hospital, but it deals with cancer patients and I am satisfied it does very good work among the sick poor.
The next provision in the Bill contained in Section 3 directs the Minister to appoint a committee of three members, to be called the Committee of Reference, for the purpose of this scheme. I should tell the House that as the Bill stands that Committee of Reference would have imposed upon them certain duties which are contained in Section 4; that is to say, they should examine and report on every scheme before such scheme receives sanction. Representations, however, have been made to me by the existing Hospitals Committee that that is not practicable as a working proposition, that there must be continuity between one scheme and another, that a very large staff is employed, and that, in fact, before one scheme has been completely finished another scheme should be sanctioned, so that there would be no break. This provision, though it makes more perfectly for the carrying out of the principal Act, is not essential to its working. The real difference is that the right of hospitals to share in the proceeds of the scheme would be reported on by the Committee before they participate, instead of the matter being, as it is now, submitted to me, and I, on statutory declarations, making up my mind. That is more perfect, but would cause delay, and I think the present scheme works reasonably well. You can take it that the statutory declarations are substantially true, and, in consequence, I intend on the Committee Stage to suggest to the House that Section 4 should be deleted altogether from the Bill.
Section 5 provides that deposits should be made in the name of the Committee of Reference. The present Hospitals Committee are of the opinion that these deposits should be lodged in the names of the present trustees, who are very well-known public men. It does not appear to me to be of the slightest importance really who the trustees are, provided they are persons who can be trusted, and representations have been made to me on that matter by the existing Hospitals Committee, who of course have carried out this scheme very successfully up to the present. I should tell the House also that I propose on the Committee Stage to amend Section 5 by making it clear that the existing procedure shall be continued, and that the amount of the proceeds which goes to the prize money shall be lodged in the names of the existing trustees, all of whom are gentlemen of high standing and character.
Section 6, however, brings in a very important new charge, and that is what the Committee of Reference is really for. At present the representatives of the hospitals meet together and arrange in what proportion they should share in the proceeds of each sweepstake. I am not satisfied that that is a completely satisfactory method. I think when you get a very large number of persons together, each one representing his own hospital and, naturally, putting forward the best case that can be put on behalf of his own hospital, that sometimes the best advocate, or the person with the clearest mind and the most clear-cut idea might succeed in getting more for his hospital than the hospital requires. I am also satisfied that some of the smaller hospitals which have benefited under this Act have benefited fully already, if they have not benefited too much. I, therefore, think it well that there should be an outside determining body of a semi-judicial character that will examine into the needs of each hospital and fairly decide between the relative claims of the hospitals in consultation with the Hospitals Committee. At present that is left to the Hospitals Committee. The provision in Section 6 is that the Committee of Reference should decide finally, subject of course to my approval, which is necessary in order to have Parliamentary control over the whole business. But I am quite willing to amend Section 6 so that there should be consultation between them and the Hospitals Committee. I understand that the Hospitals Committee have to decide who will be the promoters, how they will be remunerated, upon what races the sweepstakes will be held, and everything of that kind. It is a very important work and it takes a considerable amount of time, and, as I have said, they have been very successful up to this. I do not wish in any way to oust them from their jurisdiction, but I think it would give greater satisfaction to everybody if there was a judicial body deciding in what share the various hospitals should participate.
The next amendment is contained in Section 7. It is an amendment which we have already discussed in this House and which makes it mandatory that one-fourth of the proceeds of every sweep shall go to the aid of county hospitals for their improvement. I shall read the exact words of the section, "for the improvement of such hospitals or for the equipment thereof," the idea being that no part of the proceeds shall go to the maintenance of patients and directly in relief of the rates, but that it shall go to make these county hospitals really up-to-date hospitals, a condition which, in some cases, might never be attained, and in other cases is being attained, but attained very slowly. I should say that the money will be apportioned between the various boards of health in proportion to the population of each county, and the duty of seeing that it is properly expended and for examining the scheme will devolve upon the Minister for Local Government.
There is only one other section to which I want to draw the attention of the House and that is Section 10. It reads:
This Act shall not apply or have effect in relation to any scheme which has been sanctioned under the Principal Act by the Minister before the passing of this Act or to any sweepstake held under the Principal Act, whether before or after the passing of this Act, in pursuance of a scheme so sanctioned.
I said a few minutes ago that it is necessary that one scheme should be sanctioned before the time of the other scheme has completely expired. For instance, before the work in connection with the Derby scheme has been finished a new scheme will have to be sanctioned, so that the staff will not be out of employment for possibly a fortnight or any length of time. Deputies are aware of the fact that a very large staff is engaged, and it would disturb things very much if that staff were dismissed for any period and then taken back again. I am anxious that there should be complete continuity. In order that there should be complete continuity, and since it would be almost a miracle to have this Bill law before the sanctioning of the next sweep. I propose to ask the House, in Committee Stage, to make this Bill retrospective to every scheme sanctioned after the 1st of May. It is perfectly obvious that the Manchester November Handicap Sweep, which I understand, is the next sweep, will be very large. The Derby Sweep has been enormous, and there is much more time for sending out advertisements and doing work between now and November than between March and May. I think it would be a pity if the county hospitals, and also those five hospitals I mentioned, should not participate in the proceeds of the Manchester November Handicap Sweep. Therefore I propose, with the sanction of the House, making this present Bill retrospective, so that it will cover any sweep which might be held in connection with the Manchester November Handicap.
As the House knows, the names of the participating hospitals and the share in which they participate must be printed on the book of tickets, but in spite of that fact other hospitals are entitled to participate. If this Bill is actually law before, say, the 1st of June, of course that would be unnecessary, but if it is not law before the 1st of June it would be necessary to enable the hospitals to participate and to enable a quarter share to go to the county hospitals.
These are the main provisions of the Bill, and I suggest to the House that they are improvements on the existing Act.