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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 20 May 1931

Vol. 38 No. 13

Public Charitable Hospitals (Amendment) Bill, 1931—Second Stage.

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.

While we on this side of the House are not prepared at this stage to offer any opposition to this Bill, nevertheless I do not think it would be right to let it pass without voicing what I believe is the concern with which a considerable number of Deputies view the extension of the sweepstake principle as a means of raising money, particularly where in the case of this Bill it is proposed to use it for the purpose of providing moneys which should more properly come from public funds. The Principal Act, I should like to remind the House, was originally introduced as a temporary measure. I think the strongest argument put forward in favour of it was that it was merely a temporary expedient in order to prevent certain hospitals closing down. It was accepted by members on this side of the House in that spirit as a temporary measure pending investigation into the general position of the public hospitals. Any enlargement of its scope will naturally tend to make it permanent, and for that reason, as I say, we feel that before the Bill goes through the whole question ought to be carefully examined, because if we are going to introduce sweepstakes as a permanent means of raising what is in effect public revenue, I think there was scarcely sufficient consideration given to the Principal Act to warrant us in doing that.

Many of us, who are familiar with life in Dublin, particularly life in working-class districts, have heard many stories of the hardship and of the privations to which Dublin people have subjected themselves and their families in order to provide the money to buy sweepstake tickets. I am sure that what we have heard in regard to the workers of the city applies equally to every other class in the city. All of us know the craze which possesses many people now to sell sweep tickets. A book is procured, one or two tickets are sold, and immediately the person who sold these one or two tickets, urged on by the fact that he can buy the remaining tickets at a discount, becomes fanatical in his endeavour to dispose of the tickets.

I am perfectly satisfied there is a considerable number of people in every section of the community spending more money than is justifiable on these tickets. It might be argued that this would be no harm if the whole of the money were devoted to what appears to be the primary purpose of the Bill. The primary purpose of the whole machinery of the Bill is ostensibly to provide money for the hospitals, but in point of fact that is not so. There are others who take a very large proportion of the proceeds. First, there are the prize-winners, those lucky people who get large sums, and then there are the equally lucky promoters, and by far the larger proportion of the funds goes to these two sections. A large part of the money raised from the public does not reach the hospitals at all.

There are other factors which I think ought to be taken into consideration also. I would like again to remind the House that the original Bill was introduced as a temporary measure. When it was going through, both from these and other benches, the question of the general position of the Dublin hospitals particularly was raised. It seemed to some of us that the position was one which at the time warranted investigation and examination. The measure was accepted as a temporary one because it was felt that Parliamentary exigencies, the exigencies of the Government and other claims on Government time, did not permit investigation to be made at that moment. What happened since? Most of us felt at that time that there was only one sweepstake to be organised, but now we find that every possible excuse is taken for organising sweepstakes. Many of the hospitals, some people hold, at any rate, would be better closed than undertaking capital expenditure which imposes on them further commitments and liabilities for maintenance, commitments which, if sweepstakes were to be discontinued, would certainly involve them in very grave financial difficulties. All this haphazard expenditure has been undertaken merely because sweepstakes seem to have provided windfalls. At the moment vested interests are being created which are going to make the problem much more difficult to deal with, when it comes to be dealt with, as in course of time it must be.

I said that there are some who believe that there are too many hospitals in Dublin, and that it would be a good thing if a number of the smaller hospitals were amalgamated, and put under central control. As against that, others believe that the smaller hospitals are doing good work by providing training places for students which could not be provided by the larger hospitals. As between the two views I am not competent to judge. The problem is there, and it should be examined, but its examination and solution will be more difficult if we allow sweepstakes to be utilised, as they apparently are at present, without any real central control over them.

There is one other thing which I think should be mentioned in connection with this Bill, and that is, that when the original Bill was before the House, I do not think that any section here contemplated that a virtual monopoly in the promotion of sweepstakes would be created. This, however, is what has happened under the Act, and I think it is very objectionable that it should have happened. I do not know the merits or demerits of the case, but I remember that shortly after the first sweepstake was promoted, another syndicate entered the field, and submitted proposals to the Minister and the Government, which, I believe, were turned down.

I received no proposals.

I am not sure whether they were proposals or negotiations.

I permitted it to be known that my view was that there should not be rival sweepstakes.

The Minister indicated that, in his opinion, there should be a monopoly as regards the promotion of sweepstakes. I think that that was not in the mind of any section of this House when the Bill was going through. Some of us, I suppose, knew who the individuals were, who would probably promote the first sweepstake, but we did not think that for the whole duration and operation of the Act the promotion of subsequent sweepstakes was going to be confined to that particular syndicate or corporation. I do not think that it is desirable that it should be. It is a very valuable monopoly. All of us have heard stories of the tens of thousands of pounds that have been cleared by the original promoters as their part of the profits. If three or four sweepstakes be run throughout the year, as quickly as opportunity to organise them offers, surely, in the name of common justice, decency and equity, every citizen ought to be permitted if he likes, to submit a scheme to the Minister, and the Minister should not indicate beforehand that he is in favour of a monopoly, and that in actual fact, he has already conferred a monopoly on certain select individuals.

The Deputy does not seem to know the facts. I do not select the promoters. I had nothing to do with the selection of the promoters. They are selected by the Hospitals Committee.

The Minister already said that he allowed it to become public knowledge that he did not favour the existence of more than one promoting syndicate or corporation.

No, what I stated was that I would not allow more than one Hospitals Committee, more than one sweepstake to be run. My idea was that all the hospitals in Ireland that were enabled under the Act to do so, should join in the same scheme. I think it would be quite wrong to have three or four different schemes going at the same time. It would lead to a great deal of confusion and, consequently, I said that all the hospitals should join together, but whom they choose as promoters has nothing to do with me.

I am glad that that has been cleared up, because undoubtedly in the public mind there was an idea that the attitude of the Minister for Justice had reference not merely to the fact that it was objectionable to run two or three sweepstakes on the one racing event, but that he did not favour the management or promotion of sweepstakes by anyone except one collection of individuals.

That has nothing to do with me.

I am glad that the Minister made that point clear, because undoubtedly the public did believe that the view of the Minister and of his colleagues in the Executive Council was that there was only one syndicate or organisation in the State that would be favoured with the promotion of these sweepstakes.

There is just one other point to which I would like to make reference, and that is, that while undoubtedly the hospitals referred to in Section 2 of the Bill are doing very good public work, I do not think that the principle which was at the basis of the original Bill should be completely lost sight of. That principle was that the only hospitals which would be permitted to participate were those which provided treatment and accommodation for the poor, either free or upon the payment of a sum not exceeding ten shillings a week. As Section 2 of the Bill stands, it would seem that hospitals would be in a position to participate, irrespective of whether they provided any free accommodation whatever. That apparently does not matter. They might not provide a single bed. They might charge anything they like and still be entitled to participate in the sweepstake. In view of special circumstances and in view of the particular treatment which they provide, it might be difficult to insist on the percentages or proportions which were included in the principal Act, but, never theless, I think that the desirability of insisting that some free treatment should be provided by these hospitals should not be lost sight of.

The speech which has just been delivered by Deputy MacEntee, and the general attitude of his Party which his speech indicates towards the general principle contained in the Bill, might be understandable in a country where all the people were either saints or scholars. If the attitude adopted by Deputy MacEntee is a sound one, I do not see why he should not carry it still further and say that dog-racing, horse-racing and other forms of gambling should be made illegal in this country. I cannot forget, because I was one of the members of the original Committee with Deputy Sir James Craig, which went into the terms of the original Bill, which was a Private Member's Bill, that Deputy Seán T. O'Kelly, Deputy Moore, and some other Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party agreed with the Bill to the extent that they became members of the Committee appointed by the House which went into the details, details with regard to the allocation of the portion of the money which would be set aside for the promoters and for the hospitals. I did not hear any member of the Fianna Fáil Party at that period taking any exception to the general principle of the Bill, which had for its object the securing of money to enable the hospitals of the country to be reconstructed and put in a proper condition. No citizen of the State is being forced to hand out money for tickets, and there is no obligation upon anybody; on the contrary, a person feels that he will get a good run for his money if he pays 10/- or less for his ticket. Deputy MacEntee knows as well as every other Deputy and as well as most people of the country that a big percentage of the money which is being set aside for the reconstruction of our hospitals is coming from people outside the country. Why should we protest against the principle of a Bill which will enable other citizens and people of the outside world to provide our hospitals with the money that will assist them to become the best hospitals in the world?

There are Deputies who have a greater obligation to defend the promoters of the sweepstakes than I have, but I believe that posterity will pay a very great and well-deserved tribute to the people who initiated the hospitals sweepstakes. They will pay it to them because they will in time be provided, by means of this Bill and as a result of the activities of these people, with the best hospitals in the world, which will enable the poorest of the poor to get the very best treatment that can be given to them whenever they find it necessary to go into a hospital for treatment.

I do not pose as being an exemplary citizen of the State, and I am not going to oppose, on principle, the extension of the original Bill, which was brought in as a Private Member's Bill. I am glad to note that the Minister and the Government are now taking a different view from that which they took towards the original Bill introduced by Deputy Sir James Craig. Nine or ten of them held up their hands in holy horror against the idea contained in the temporary measure. Now they come before the House, clothed as Ministers and with the full authority of the Executive Council, and ask for the extension of the principle contained in the original Bill. I am not going, for the reasons given by Deputy MacEntee, to oppose the principle contained in the Bill, because, as I said, I believe that posterity and the people of the country who will get the benefits that will accrue from the Bill, will pay a well-deserved tribute to those who introduced it. Deputy MacEntee protested against the big portion of the money which is going to prize winners and promoters.

I have not protested. I only pointed it out.

I think one of the inducements offered to people outside the country for the purchase of tickets was the high prize money. The prize money was much in excess of that offered by those who promoted the Calcutta Sweep and other sweeps which originally induced people from all parts of the world to speculate. Regarding the Deputy's complaint that a monopoly has been given to certain individuals in connection with the running of the sweep, speaking for myself I agree with the Minister that the sweepstakes should be run by one central authority, and if there is to be any change in the method of getting money for this very deserving purpose the only change that I would support would be to take the project out of the hands of private individuals and put it into the hands of the State.

That would be logical.

I am glad the Minister has seen his way to introduce this Bill to extend the scope of the existing measure. The existing measure, in principle and in practice, has proved a huge success, and nothing succeeds like success. Deputy MacEntee, I think, left most Deputies— certainly he left me—in very great doubt as to what his attitude was in regard to the present Bill. I understood him to say that he was not going to oppose it. But the whole speech seemed to be against the principle of the Bill and against the passing of the present proposals. He seemed to me like one who felt that he had to get up and say something. He did not exactly want to oppose the passage of the Bill, but yet he did not want to give it his final and complete blessing. He said that the original proposal was a temporary one. Of course it was temporary, and this is a temporary one as well.

The existing Act comes to an end in the year 1934. The passage of the present Bill will in no way extend the time period of that Act, so that the present proposal as well as the original one is a temporary measure. If Deputy MacEntee is here in 1934, he and his colleagues, if they are here in sufficient numbers, as we are led to understand they will be, if they so choose will be able to oppose the continuance of the present proposal and the original Act itself. Therefore, to suggest that the present proposal and the original one are in any sense permanent, is, to my mind, to talk from the point of view of one who does not know what he is talking about. The Deputy also said that to enlarge the scope of the Act—that is, to enable these further hospitals which have been enumerated by the Minister to participate in the sweepstakes—will tend to make the principle a permanent one. I cannot follow that line of argument at all. If there are ten hospitals participating, or one hundred hospitals participating, how is that going to render the measure more permanent or less temporary? The same Deputy spoke about the hardships that the people of Dublin were undergoing in endeavouring to scrape up sufficient money to pay for these tickets. I do not know whether they are undergoing these great hardships which he stated, or not, but there is one thing certain, and I think it will be admitted by all, that they are certainly undergoing more hardship in gathering in queues round the existing gambling dens in Dublin which have been allowed to be set up by this House, and which, in my view, are a disgrace to the country.

It would be far better if a Deputy like Deputy MacEntee directed his comments and criticism to those existing temptations. After all, though this may not provide the full sum required for the benefit of the hospitals, certainly it will provide a very large and substantial relief for a very just, proper and humane purpose. The Minister has enumerated the various hospitals which he proposes to allow to participate in the coming sweep. I think the general attitude of most hospitals now is that a great many of them are sorry that they did not come in at the beginning. They are anxious to come in now. I think, therefore, even though they may not approve, and in some cases may have directly opposed the original Bill, it is right for us to be generous and to allow them to participate. With regard to the county hospitals, the Minister said he is making provision whereby their participation in the forthcoming sweep will not mean a relief to the local rates. Therefore, I think Deputy MacEntee's argument falls to the ground when he says that this is a proposal to do something which should be done either by taxation or the raising of rates.

There is another fact and that is that the time is very short—July, 1934. The greatest number of sweeps that can take place in that period will certainly not be more than ten because it takes a very large amount of time to organise these sweeps successfully. Therefore, there will not be such a big number of continuous sweepstakes going on during that period. I was not one of those referred to by Deputy MacEntee when he said that the general public seemed to think that the Minister had given a monopoly to a certain body of people to be promoters of these sweeps. I have not met anyone outside or inside this Dáil yet who was. The Minister never did anything of the kind. Deputy Sir James Craig, who proposed this Bill and I who seconded it, knew perfectly well that the question of who the promoters should be was one which we meant should rest entirely in the hospitals themselves. Perhaps it is well that Deputy MacEntee has cleared the air in that respect to-day by getting the explanation from the Minister which I was aware of. Anyone acquainted with the Acts in force must be aware that though the Minister was not in favour of two, three, four or five sweeps running concurrently throughout the country, still it never rested with him nor had he the power of handing over to a single syndicate of men the whole right and monopoly in the Act to run these sweepstakes during the whole period these Acts will run.

I think there is very little indeed to be said on a measure like this because I think it must meet with the general approval of the House. Certainly there cannot be speeches made more against it than that made by Deputy MacEntee. Yet he has informed us that he and his Party are not going to oppose it. Therefore, I hope it will go through now. As I have said previously, Deputy MacEntee and those associated with him if they are here, will have every opportunity of rendering this not a permanent but a temporary measure again or even destroying it altogether or opposing its renewal when it comes up, if it ever comes up, for renewal in the year 1934.

There has been a considerable change of opinion in this House and outside since two years ago, when I asked the Minister for Justice if he would introduce legislation to legalise sweeps. I got a very short answer. However, I am glad that the vast majority of the people have come to my way of thinking, and that sweeps have now been legalised and are perhaps the most outstanding success ever achieved in this country. I welcome this amending Bill because of my personal knowledge of the vital necessity of fitting county hospitals with up-to-date modern equipment for the treatment of disease. One-quarter is to be allotted to the county hospitals to bring them up-to-date. The money is to be divided amongst boards of health according to the population of the particular county. I understand money will be provided for capital expenditure for the provision of X-ray apparatus, which is one of the most desirable requirements at the moment for the treatment of disease. In very few county hospitals is there proper X-ray apparatus. In Longford they have to send patients to Westmeath to be treated. I hope that every county hospital in the Free State will have first-class modern apparatus provided out of this money. Operation theatres are primitive and can be very considerably improved. Maternity wards are primitive in a great many cases. I hope that a large part of this money will be devoted to the treatment of tuberculosis, provided that there will be a tuberculosis hospital built in every county in Ireland. It is a disease which unfortunately, as we all know has caused great havoc, and the provision of this money will be of extraordinary value in relieving those people at present who cannot be provided with either accommodation or equipment.

I might mention in connection with shortage of accommodation that the medical officer in Mullingar County Hospital told me yesterday that he had to refuse admission to six patients because he had no room, one of the principal reasons being that tuberculosis patients have to be put in other parts of the county hospital. Those county hospitals and other hospitals in the county are doing just as good work as any of the city hospitals. The most up-to-date treatment is given. I certainly am very pleased that we are going to get a share of this money, because I know, as a member of a board of health in touch with various hospitals, of the great necessity for it. I would like to know from the Minister what is to be the position with regard to infirmaries and district hospitals. In the county I come from the infirmary is not under the Board of Health. Therefore it would appear to me that the Board of Health institution would be eligible and the infirmary would not.

I am not going to say anything about Deputy MacEntee's speech. It was the usual Fianna Fáil method of crabbing everything which is a success in this country. One would imagine from Deputy MacEntee's remarks that it was only since the sweepstakes were started here that people purchased tickets. What the people were doing was: they were sending large sums of money out of the country for the purchase of sweep tickets on the Calcutta Sweep, London sweeps, and sweeps in other places. They were helping British hospitals and Calcutta hospitals and neglecting their own. As one of those who assisted in having the Act passed to have sweepstakes legalised, I want to pay the highest tribute I can to the promoters and to the committee who have brought the sweepstakes in the Free State to such a high standard that they are not only the talk of the Free State but of the world. No matter what part of the world it is people are asking: "Have you a ticket in the Free State sweep?" Everyone knows that the sweeps here are run under the fairest possible conditions and that everyone gets fair play.

Mr. Jordan

Hear, hear.

We will be very interested to hear what Deputy Jordan has to say. I hope that he will not agree with Deputy MacEntee and that he will be lucky in the sweep.

I can tell Deputy Shaw that I will not be drawn here, but I hope the nurses will draw me from the drum.

I am very pleased with the amending Bill, as it will bring great benefits to county and other hospitals. I would ask the Minister to say what is the position with regard to infirmaries and district hospitals.

In order to set Deputy Shaw's mind at ease on some points I can assure him that as one member of the Fianna Fáil Party I am just as enthusiastic a supporter of this Bill as I was of the original Act. Perhaps I disagree more than any other Deputy with some of the remarks made by Deputy MacEntee. I cannot agree that any hardship whatever is inflicted on people who buy sweepstake tickets. As far as I know, anyone who purchases a sweep ticket, or portion of one, can afford to do so or might spend the money in worse ways.

I understand that 91 per cent. of the money on the last sweepstake, and on the Manchester November Handicap came from countries outside Ireland. In order to induce people to purchase tickets for sweepstakes decent money prizes must be given. Otherwise the people will not take tickets or help to make the sweeps a success. The success of sweeps depends on the amount of prize money given in previous ones. Deputy Redmond referred to the fact that this Bill and the original Act are only temporary measures. This amending Bill does not affect the temporary nature of these measures. This Bill was introduced owing to the demand to have country hospitals included in the benefits of the sweeps.

Section 7 states:

(1) One-fourth of the available surplus in any sweepstake held under the Principal Act shall be paid to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health and shall be disposed of by him in accordance with the following provisions, that is to say:—

(a) such one-fourth shall be apportioned by the said Minister between the several counties and county boroughs in Saorstát Eireann in proportion to their respective populations according to the general census of population which is for the time being the last such census.

I do not agree with that section, because if it is retained it will mean that the cities of Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick and other places will secure far more than their due share of money which is supposed to go to country hospitals. In these places many of the hospitals have already secured benefits, so that if the population basis is taken for the distribution of the money which should go to the country hospitals I fear that counties like Leitrim, Sligo and Roscommon, with small populations, will get a very small proportion. I would like the money to be apportioned according to the needs of a county. In Leitrim there is no county hospital and no proper surgical hospital or equipment. If Leitrim only gets a share of the money according to the population basis this Bill will not do much for it. The needs of a county should be taken into account as well as the equipment at present available. The more deserving the case the more money should be given. Leitrim is a poor county, and such a county should get more help because it needs it owing to the population being relatively small. That county will not get a fair share of the money if this section is retained in the Bill. I welcome this amending Bill most enthusiastically, but I say that, as far as I am concerned, nobody on these benches had any right to speak for me or to say that we are opposed to the Bill in any shape or form. Many other Deputies on these benches will agree with me there. I am just as enthusiastic in my support of this Bill as I was of the principal measure.

I had several objections to this Bill as it was drafted, but, as the Minister has stated, he has agreed to make changes that practically meet all the objections I had to raise. I was very sorry that the names of those who are already trustees should disappear, because, in my opinion, these names stood for a great deal before the public with regard to the honesty of the measure and the way in which it would be worked. The Minister has also agreed, I understand, to withdraw Section 4, with regard to the direct interference of the experts with the work. I had the fear that he was going to remove all control from the Hospitals Committee and to place entire control in the hands of three experts. I was not at all sure that he would be able to find three experts to give him such advice as the Hospitals Committee would be able to give him. As everybody knows, the Hospitals Committee were unanimous in producing the schemes, and they worked without fee or reward. Although some objections may have been raised to their decisions, I think the decisions they gave in the drafting of the schemes were extremely satisfactory. It is a pity the Minister had to go outside the sections of the principal Act, so as to bring in hospitals which could not qualify under it, hospitals that were unable to show that they were keeping 25 per cent. of their beds for free patients. He has had to introduce five names here. What frightened me when I saw these five names was that it would not end there, that there would be a great many other people applying to get the names of hospitals on the lists, and that we would not know where it would end. On the whole, I am satisfied that three or four of these have a perfect right. There is only one whose circumstances, I think, should be inquired into, because I have heard a great deal of opposition to the inclusion of this hospital. There is no use in saying anything about it now, because probably in the Committee Stage some objection will be made to its inclusion.

I come to what to me is the most important thing, the reason for the Bill, namely, the inclusion of the county hospitals. When the matter was first mentioned to me by Deputy Shaw and others I stated that I thought it would be an extremely good thing if about £5,000 could be devoted to each of the county hospitals, in order to provide them with proper equipment in the nature of X-ray and other materials, perhaps improving their operation theatres and so on. On the other hand, I want to lay this proposition quite clearly before the Minister. If the Act goes on till 1934, as I presume it will, and if there are three sweeps during each of these years, that means there will be nine sweeps. I am prepared to say here and now that if the sweeps go on, as I have every reason to think they will go on, the result of giving 25 per cent. to the county hospitals will mean that each county will receive a total sum of something like £40,000. That is far too much, I think.

Therefore, the Minister should endeavour to devise some scheme by which a limitation would be placed upon the amount to be given to the county councils for distribution among the county hospitals. If anyone wants to know what I base my calculations upon I am prepared to give it at any moment. I will take one example. We know that the amount received by the hospitals under the National Sweep was £436,000. I know that the amount that will come to the hospitals under the Derby Sweep will not be less. I, therefore, say that it is quite fair to take £450,000 as the possible amount that will be available for the hospitals. Not less than one-quarter of that will be available for the country hospitals. That will be about £110,000 or £120,000, and when you multiply that by nine you will see what figure you reach. Then divide that by 26 and you will see that it will give you a figure amounting to about £40,000 for each county. Unless the Minister brings in a measure either to stop the Sweeps as some people would like, or to shorten the period over which they will last he should in some way limit the amount that will go to the counties. It is not that I grudge the county hospitals the money, but so long as the money received is not allowed to relieve the rates I do not see what they are going to do with £40,000 in each case, and I think some limitation should be placed upon the amount, either by reducing the actual percentage that is given or when a certain sum has been reached that it should stop at that. I think that we should really take cognisance of the fact that the county hospitals will be getting more money than they will know what to do with.

I want to say this publicly. It has been stated in public that it is well known to everybody that this measure was not introduced for the sake of benefiting the hospitals, but that it was really introduced for the sake of encouraging gambling. There is no truth in that statement. As far as I had anything to do with the introduction of the measure. I was driven to it because of the needs of the hospitals. I say quite definitely that as far as encouraging the gambling spirit is concerned there was nothing further from my mind than that. It has been stated here that little of the money has gone to the hospitals. When the Derby sweep is over there will have been £1,000,000 distributed among the Free State hospitals from the three sweeps. If that is not helping the hospitals I do not know what is.

At all events, it is a fact that I am perfectly sure of that the hospitals are going to benefit to the extent of about £1,000,000. I do not for a moment say that Deputy O'Kelly and myself had any idea when we were working on the Committee Stage of the original Bill that this was going to reach the enormous extent which it did. I do not know that I am not rather appalled at the extent of the success to which this has attained. It is a huge success, and I am assured by those who have something to do with it that the success will go on, that there will be an increasing amount for these sweeps, so that we do not know what the limit of it eventually will be. That being so, perhaps the Minister would curtail the time during which the sweeps would be run.

Someone said also that the hospitals get very little out of the 10/- ticket. They get 2/6 out of every 10/-. Everybody knows that the Bill says that 20 per cent. is the minimum, but the actual amount has gone up to 25 per cent. or one-quarter of the total amount. The Minister has put down here not less than 20 per cent. I told him that I would like to see that amount 25 or 30 per cent.

It is 25 per cent. under the present scheme.

I am explaining that although the Act only allows 20 per cent. to be spent on the hospitals the actual amount that is spent is 25 per cent. I would like that the Minister would make it 25 per cent. instead of the 20 per cent. in the Bill.

Deputy MacEntee took exception to the fact that only one company, as it were, of promoters was allowed to run these sweeps. As Deputy O'Kelly, Deputy Moore and Deputy O'Dowd will remember, it was suggested that it was a great mistake to allow company promoters to get hold of this scheme, that it should be run by a committee of doctors. I knew sufficient about doctors to realise that any scheme that they would undertake financially was not going to be worth running. It is only businessmen who can do this. I am whole-heartedly in support of the Second Reading of the Bill. I would like to see some changes, but I do not think that any changes that I have in mind are enough to make me oppose the Second Reading. I think it is possible to get some changes in the Committee Stage that will meet my views, perhaps on two at least of the points that I have raised.

I should like to ask Deputy Sir James Craig a question. He is familiar with the finances of the sweepstakes. He stated that 25 per cent. of the money, amounting to £1,000,000, was going to the hospitals. Fifty per cent. has gone to the prizewinners. Does not that leave another million pounds for the expenses of the sweep-stakes and for the promoters' profits?

No, the Deputy is quite wrong in his figures.

Can the Minister tell the House how much the amount is?

What happens is that 25 per cent. must go to the hospitals under the existing scheme. By the statute at least 20 per cent. must go. Under the existing scheme that 20 per cent. is increased to 25 per cent. The expenses and the promoters' fees are then deducted, and the balance goes to the prize winners. The prize money considerably exceeds 50 per cent.

It was 65 per cent. in the last sweep.

Deputy Redmond mentioned that the original Act will expire in 1934. He went on to express the opinion that this system of raising money will expire with the original Act. We always recognise in Deputy Redmond, an optimist, but I am afraid his optimism on this occasion is not well-founded because, in view of the enormous success that Deputy Sir James Craig has attributed to this particular method of raising money, and for which he has a very large responsibility, I am afraid it will require a person with extraordinary courage to stand up here in 1934 and say that this system of raising money has now achieved its object, and must end. I am afraid that the end will be alleged to have justified the means, and I still am one of those who are exceedingly sceptical from the national point of view as to the wisdom of raising money in this way. However, that principle is not embodied for the first time in this Bill, and is therefore somewhat out of order in the present discussion. But one or two subjects have been raised in this debate that I think ought to have some consideration. Those who have some knowledge of the hospital problem as it exists in Dublin, know that for many years there has been a crying demand on the part of many hospitals, and on the part of a large section of the public who have been subscribing and who have been the means of maintaining those hospitals for a great many years in our city, that some scheme of centralisation should be brought about.

One of the objections that one sees to this method of raising money and of supplying the needs of these hospitals is that the present system, which is a system of a number of small hospitals more or less efficient distributed over the city, will be maintained. Might I suggest that even at this stage the original proposal of centralisation might be considered. A great deal might be done for the carrying out of that proposal, if, even at this stage, an agreement could be arrived at to provide the moneys from some future sweepstake for that particular object. It does seem to me that that is a proposal that ought to receive more careful consideration than it has received. If we can see that in that way some lasting and real benefit would accrue to the hospitals by reason of the money obtained in this particular way many of us might be disposed to look on it somewhat differently from the way in which we look at it at the moment.

There are one or two other matters to which one would like to refer. The first is that it is a matter of comment everywhere one goes that such a small sum as twenty to twenty-five per cent. of the proceeds of the sweeps goes to the hospitals. The principles on which these moneys have been subscribed and the principles on which support is being given to this Bill is that the money goes to the hospitals. After all, if we give our support to a measure of that kind it ought to be possible to give a larger sum from the total than twenty or twenty-five per cent. It has always appeared to me that the names of the hospitals have been used widely in advertising the sweepstakes, and they only get a quarter of the proceeds. Another matter into which I would like to see some inquiry made, and it is a matter that has been commented on, is the amount of money that the promoters get from these sweeps. I would like to know from the Minister whether any inquiry has been made by his Department into the money received by these promoters. Can the Minister give the House an assurance that the promoters of these different sweeps are not receiving an undue amount of money? That is a matter on which we would all like to have an assurance, and I think it is a matter into which there ought to be some inquiry. It is a matter on which I hope the Minister will have something to say.

I have no objection to Deputy Good and Deputy MacEntee going arm in arm to the highest altitude and moralising on the rest of us, poor sinners in the gutter. I realise that, notwithstanding all the things that have been said, Deputy Good is quite naughty enough to wink at sweepstakes if his particular ideas in regard to amalgamation were carried out. So, having swallowed the gnat he might swallow the camel. Some complaint has been made in regard to the monopoly enjoyed by the Hospitals Trust, Ltd. I do not know that I should say "enjoyed," because it is a very heavy responsibility on several of those people, who gain nothing whatever but give their time and energy to the work they undertook to do at the start for the various hospitals when they were doubtful of success. At that time everybody was doubtful of success, but when the sweepstakes succeeded people naturally became avaricious and they wanted to share in both the lustre and in any share in the way of gains that might accrue to the Hospitals Trust, Ltd.

We have heard a lot about the hardships of poor people in this city scraping ten shillings for a sweepstake ticket. Every day of their lives these people manage to scrape sixpence or threepence to put on a horse or on two horses both ways.

When they cannot afford it.

Nevertheless they will do it. I think it is as well for them to co-operate and find the ten shillings for the sweepstake. In that event they will have the consolation anyhow that if the hospitals benefit they will have their services some day if they need them. We might also remember that, taking Ireland in its entirety, it does not contribute ten per cent. of the sweepstake money, so that we have the best of the bargain. Those of us who act as agents, subterraneously I admit, know that nearly all the money comes from Great Britain and the Dominions.

There is one thing I would like to see in this Hospitals Bill, but which I am sorry to say is not in it. I do not know if the Minister would give it further consideration. I refer to the pensions for nurses. There is a lot of money to be distributed, and the wounded soldiers of the hospitals are getting nothing. These nurses are not working under local authorities, and no provision is made for them either in their old age or when they incur disabilities from attending the sick. Somebody should do something for these nurses. They are the most deserving people in the community.

Now when we have so much money going around, I would ask the Minister, if at all possible, to see that some portion of the proceeds of these sweepstakes is devoted to pensions for nurses. If not, I hope the nation will do something to provide them with pensions. I am, of course, referring entirely to nurses who are not under local authorities and who have no pension rights, but who are giving their services to the sick poor.

The disqualification of certain hospitals, because they have not 25 per cent. of free beds, has been referred to. Many of these hospitals, although they have not actually free beds, have to bear two-thirds of the cost of the patients, and possibly get only one-third from local authorities or from some other source. They are doing most important work in the way of medical treatment, and doing it with very considerable success. I refer to the treatment of tuberculosis and of the scourge of cancer. They make the end of these cancer patients tolerable and remove a scourge of great trouble from the homes from which they come.

The amalgamation of hospitals, to which Deputy Good has referred, has been the subject of very serious consideration in Dublin. It is bristling with difficulties. It has, of course, for its object the building of one big hospital for all Dublin. That means, of course, that you would not have, as you now have, several small hospitals, as compared with hospitals in other countries, convenient to the people who make use of them. Especially in urgent surgical cases, it is a great thing to have a hospital within easy reach of those requiring it.

I really think that the hospitals under the local authorities are coming very well out of this scheme when they get 25 per cent. of the amount available. I hope that money will be confined to providing proper equipment for the hospitals in the way of X-rays and equipment of that kind, and that it will not be used for reconstruction purposes. It will in that way relieve the rates, because many of the councils throughout the country have done very well by their hospitals and have provided first-class accommodation and up-to-date operating theatres, etc. There are others who absolutely refuse to provide proper hospital equipment. I hope the Minister for Local Government, to whom the allocation of this money will be assigned, will see that the hospitals which have been kept up-to-date will not suffer because they have kept abreast of the times.

Mr. P. Hogan (Clare):

I hope before the debate closes we shall hear something on this matter from Deputies from country districts. We have had an exhibition of what I might call the metropolitan mind. I hope the Miniister will not take any very serious notice of what Deputy Sir J. Craig said, that too much money was likely to go to the county hospitals. One would want to be in intimate touch with the conditions in these county hospitals before one could back up such a statement as that. In some counties there is not alone a county hospital, but three or four district hospitals which are surgical hospitals. Recently, because of the distress of certain people, the Government introduced a system of de-rating. We were all agreed that the causes that led up to the introduction of that system did not grow up in a night and that because of them there was some deterioration and disorganisation in the county hospitals. I know something about these county hospitals and their condition. I know that a great effort has been made by those responsible to keep them in a state of repair and to equip them in the way they should be equipped, but they were not in a position to do it. I would say that the amount of money which is to go to these hospitals should not be reduced, and that is the reason why I should like to hear something in greater detail from Deputies who come from country districts.

I should like the Minister to make it clear whether district hospitals are included in the term "county hospitals." There are district hospitals which are surgical hospitals, and if they are not included a whole hornets' nest of trouble will be raised. The Minister was good enough to receive a deputation from our Party recently and to discuss the matter with us, and I hope he will let us know whether this includes district hospitals or not.

Now that we are considering all types of county hospitals, that treat the people in the country districts and in the provincial towns, I might say that representations have been made to me and, I think, to other Deputies, that mental hospitals might very well be included in this from the point of view of equipment, accommodation and improvements. Unfortunately, lunacy is increasing to some extent, and in some cases those charged with the maintenance of these institutions were not capable of keeping them as they should be kept. The equipment certainly is not up-to-date. The new idea of detached villas and such things for the treatment of this disease can certainly not be tried effectively in these institutions.

I should like to know whether the Minister would consider any representations of that nature, or whether representations have been made to him by responsible authorities in the matter. I am not going to enter into the moral question as to whether or not it is right to have these sweepstakes. The position is that sweepstakes have been carried out for certain hospitals and the country hospitals are certainly entitled to their share of the proceeds.

I think the Minister should let us know whether the county hospitals include district hospitals and whether mental hospitals have any chance of being included as well.

People seem to forget that but for the support of the Fianna Fáil Party the original Act would not have gone through at all. They also seem to forget that in giving our consent to that Act we did it with reserve just the same as we do to-day, believing as we do that in the long run the views of Deputy MacEntee will be found to be very far sighted. There are a good many cases in Dublin of which, perhaps Deputy O'Dowd is not aware. He is not aware of the conditions in Dublin perhaps, and while one would sympathise with his interest in hospitals and especially in the county hospitals, at the same time those familiar with the conditions in Dublin know that there are many abuses such for instance as cases of people selling their furniture in order to buy sweep tickets. All authorities upon the moral aspect of the question agree that a sweepstake is not an evil in itself. But what everyone is afraid of is abuse leading to an increase in the appetite for gambling. We want to try and guard against that, and if the Minister could provide any means for preventing that—and I think it will be almost impossible—he would take away a good part of the criticism against these sweepstakes schemes.

Deputy Redmond seems to have completely changed his attitude towards the Government, because he came into this House upon support which he gained largely owing to his almost violent opposition to the Government. Now his criticism seems to be levelled altogether against the Opposition Party, while he supports enthusiastically all measures of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. He criticised the remarks of Deputy MacEntee, and said he could not see what reason there was to imagine that the extension of the scheme might lead to the permanent institution of the sweepstake system. The simple answer to that is to say that a scheme which assists ten hospitals might easily be concluded and brought to an end without very much resistance, but that the resistance to concluding a scheme which assists 100 hospitals would be very much greater.

Ten and five make fifteen.

I do not understand?

Five hospitals only are being added.

I cannot understand the Minister's little caper into the discussion, because he seems to forget the terms of his own Bill. There are a whole lot of other hospitals included in the scheme.

What about the county hospitals?

That is quite a different thing.

They also get money out of the sweepstake scheme. It is necessary to emphasise these points, because I think the Minister at this stage should, upon some basis of figures such as were outlined by Deputy Sir James Craig, attempt to gauge how much money is going to be got out of this whole scheme up to the end of 1934. And he should make it clear to the hospitals that the amount of money they are going to get during that period is the total sum they are going to get from this source. I do not think that the Minister, except in the case of the Poor Law hospitals, has any power to direct or to check the schemes of outlay in the various hospitals, but certainly it would be an abuse, and very likely an abuse which would be indulged in, if the hospitals went in for a scheme of outlay which must inevitably at the end of 1934 involve further expenses.

There should be some way to check the manner in which that money should be spent, so as to ensure that while the hospitals get the best possible advantage from the money coming to them, at the end they should be in a sound economic condition. A good many remarks made in the debate on this side of the House and upon the other, had reference to the promoters' costs. If the promoters' costs amount to something like £200,000 it is a very large sum, and is more than any individual enterprise is entitled to regard as normal profit. Some effort should be made to curtail it, now, when the scheme is well-known to be a success. In the beginning the promoters' costs might be higher because of the element of risk involved, but now that the scheme is working in a smooth condition, and successfully, as it is, I am perfectly certain that reasonable promoters would be satisfied with a much smaller profit on the whole transaction, and the hospitals might very well get the difference between the larger and the smaller profit.

Deputy Redmond said we would be much better employed in criticising the betting shops and the abuses arising from the betting shops. If the Deputy had been paying any attention to the work in this House he would know that we devoted a very great deal of attention to the Betting Bill, and that we pointed out many of the evils which he found it so easy to refer to in a general manner. He certainly did not assist us in trying to curtail these abuses.

Deputy Davin really misrepresented Deputy MacEntee because he said Deputy MacEntee's attitude was that Ireland should consist only of saints and scholars. That of course, is absurd. We have not, at any stage, taken up the attitude of trying to make life impossible for the normal man, or that we think betting or sweepstakes are in themselves an evil. When people take up that attitude you immediately have hypocrisy springing into existence. I could mention cases of people who denounced the hospitals sweeps, and afterwards took advantage of them. What we do want to do is to guard against abuses, and to check the appetite which very often becomes an unhealthy appetite when it goes to excess.

Considerable praise was given to the organisation. Again, we feel it is necessary to check too much enthusiasm about that. We know there are cases where several people complained of not getting their receipts. That may be due to the rush or to some difficulty in the organisation, but the organisation is by no means perfect. It does not do to allow ourselves to be carried off our feet by enthusiasm about this scheme at this stage.

Deputy Hennessy seemed to think that all the money was coming from Great Britain. That, of course, is quite inaccurate. One has only to look at the prize list to see that the money comes from all over the world—Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa—practically everywhere. That is one of the several misstatements made by certain Deputies. Deputy Shaw seems to think the English hospitals were getting money out of sweepstakes, which is also entirely inaccurate.

We are not opposing this Bill. Like Deputy Sir James Craig, we regret that the original condition with reference to the number of free beds provided by the hospitals is not contained in this Bill. Perhaps that might be remedied in Committee. Our attitude towards the Bill is that so long as the hospitals are in such dire need, and so long as the country is in its present position of being unable to devote public funds to them the sweepstake scheme is the best alternative.

I would like to bespeak the sympathy of the House for the Minister for Justice in regard to the measure which is now before it. In its original form and during its incubation period the Minister showed very little enthusiasm for it. Now that the baby has been thrust upon him with all the responsibilities of its care and control, he surely must have the sympathy of the House. At the risk of being put on the list by Deputy Dr. Hennessy, and other Deputies with Deputy MacEntee and Deputy Good I would like to make a few remarks in general terms on this Bill. I think that we all realise that the situation at this point is exceedingly difficult. The principle of the Bill has been conceded by this House and the scheme has been in operation for some time. Now an amending Bill has come up, and while I suppose it is not technically in order altogether to go against the principle, I think that Deputy MacEntee was perfectly in order in expressing the feeling and the experiences of those who have been looking at the working of the scheme. I do not always agree with what Deputy MacEntee says, but I heartily agree with him in what he said to-day about this Bill. The scandal and demoralising effect created by the working of the Act have made us a byword amongst the other peoples of the world. Surely Deputy MacEntee was perfectly in order in drawing the attention of the House to that fact, so that it might direct us as to what we should do in the future.

Exception was taken, as I think rightly, to the comparatively small proportion of the sweepstakes money that finds its way to the hospitals. A number of Deputies tried to reply to that point, but nobody, apparently, has justified it yet. Deputy Dr. Hennessy, in his mild sarcasm, talked about having no objection to Deputies going to higher moral altitudes, but I do not think that he gave any moral reason whatever to show why the principle in the Bill should be extended. Deputy Redmond said that the success of the whole scheme was a perfect answer to what Deputy MacEntee had said about it. There are different ways of calculating success, and I do not think that this House will accept the theory that money will always be the deciding factor in the success of moral issues. Never before in the history of this country was there such a huge gamble as that provided by the sweepstakes nor was there more money ever dreamed of than that involved in this scheme. That, however, is no argument as to its moral effect: Deputy Redmond said that it would be better if we went to the gambling dens in the city and attacked them.

How can this House attack, or even criticise, such places when we are involved in the thing ourselves? Would it not really be a case of Satan reproving sin? If we in this House believe in Christian deas, surely we can rise higher on such issues as this? In regard to the amount of money that has been collected for the hospitals none of us, I suppose, will say that the hospitals cannot use it, but as to the methods of raising it, we have a perfect right to be critical. If we learn anything from other nations, we find that the foremost nations have turned down this system. We, however, are continuing it, and we say that because we attract money from all parts of the world and because the scheme has been such a financial success, it is morally right. A Higher Authority has said: "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" If we lose our souls and thrust ourselves into this gambling mania it will be a bad day for this country. I was one of those who during the debate on the original Bill asked the Minister to withdraw it. It has now been in operation for some time, and this is an amending Bill to it. As Deputy MacEntee pointed out, we cannot very well vote against a principle which has been conceded by this House.

I did not intend speaking on this Bill, and certainly did not intend to go into the question of its morality. When the original Bill was before the House that aspect of the situation was threshed out and, so far as I am concerned, I am an unrepentant sinner in that respect. I did not follow the last Deputy and others who spoke as to the moral effect of sweepstakes in relation to charity. This is not the time to debate that. That was debated on the original Bill, and possibly an opportunity will arise in the future to debate it further. At the moment we are considering a Bill to amend the original measure. I am speaking as one who has some knowledge of the working of sweepstakes, because I was a member of the original committee appointed by the Dáil and also of the existing Hospitals Committee who are conducting the sweepstakes. Deputy MacEntee, I think, wanted some information as to the disbursal of the amounts received. I think he said that the proportion allotted to the promoters was altogether extravagant. It will be within the recollection of the House that the original Bill provided 30 per cent. of the entire proceeds for running expenses. That amount was arrived at by the original Committee who sat and discussed the original Bill. That Committee consisted of Deputies from all Parties, and the figure was arrived at from the closest information they could get from all parts of the country as to the cost of running sweepstakes. Experience has shown it to be a very extravagant figure as far as this sweepstake is concerned, but it also proved that these sweepstakes are being run in a more economical way probably than any other sweepstakes previously promoted anywhere.

The total expenses incidental to the last sweep, including the promoters' expenses, ran to a figure, not of 30 per cent. or anywhere near it, but, speaking roughly, between 7 and 8 per cent. The portion allotted the hospitals was 25 per cent. The Act provided that a sum of not less than 20 per cent. should go to the hospitals and the Committee decided that they would allot 25 per cent. Speaking as one member of the Committee, I think we might have perhaps got a little more, but sweep committees, like other bodies, are bound by majority rule, and the Committee decided that 25 per cent. was a reasonable amount. A sweepstake, mind you, whatever the morality of the people concerned, is possibly the fairest form of gamble you can have. In the ordinary private sweepstake you have the fairest form of a gamble, because the entire fund received from subscribers is paid to the winners. In this case, there was a provision that a certain proportion should be given to charity, but the people who put up the funds, the subscribers, were entitled themselves to get the major share of the proceeds. In this instance, some 65 per cent. of the entire amount passed back to the original subscribers of the money.

Something has been said in regard to the hardships inflicted on various members of the community who were subscribers to the sweepstake. I personally am not aware of any of these hardships. I pass through this city and various other cities, and I represent a city myself, and in travelling through the cities or any part of the country I have not seen any of these terrible hardships which other Deputies have described. There is no compulsion on anybody to purchase a ticket. I have not seen any sellers of tickets go out of their way to compel anybody to buy a ticket. There have been cases in which very poor people have bought tickets, but in many cases they have clubbed together to buy portions of a ticket. I have known cases where such people have bought the twentieth portion of a ticket. Is it any crime if a very poor person who heretofore did not subscribe to charitable hospitals says: "Here I have an opportunity to provide money for an object from which I may benefit myself on a future occasion, and incidentally I can have a little gamble"? There is no harm done in the one case, and there is a lot of good done in the other. In the purchase of a ticket one is able to satisfy two desires. One desire, the foremost desire in the minds of most people, is to help the hospitals. The other desire is to do what 99 per cent. of the people—and I am not making any apology to moralists in this—whether by way of sweepstakes, horse-racing, or dog-racing, indulge in. Is it a crime if the poor man wishes to subscribe 3d. out of a shilling to a hospital and have his little gamble if he wishes? I did not intend to deal with this phase of the matter, but I lapsed into it.

I come now to the proportion that is proposed to be allotted by the amending Bill to the county hospitals. Some Deputies have raised the point that 25 per cent. of the entire proceeds was too much to give to county hospitals. There are several county hospitals in the country in a bad way owing to the lack of proper equipment, proper buildings, etc.—things that the ordinary county council or board of health is unable to provide under the existing condition of affairs. Is there any Deputy who represents the city or anywhere else who will grudge the portion that is going to be allotted to these hospitals?

So far as the two or three hospitals in the South, which I know personally, are concerned, they are very much in need of some of the appliances which were mentioned in the debate—X-ray apparatus, proper operation rooms, extension of buildings, proper accommodation for nurses and, if you like, for the doctors. These were facilities that could not in the existing condition of affairs be provided out of the rates, and if a large sum is to be provided for hospitals it is only natural that country Deputies should make the case that they should get a share of that money. I think that case has been established and the Minister has realised the necessity for giving these hospitals a share. For myself, I do not believe that 25 per cent. of the total sum which is available for hospitals is an excessive amount to allot to county hospitals.

I am glad the Minister has decided to abandon Section 4 of the Bill. With the remainder of the Bill I am more or less in agreement. A fear has been expressed that the appointment of the three experts would interfere with the running of the sweepstakes. I am glad to see that the Minister has arranged that the three experts will offer as little interference as possible with the existing condition of affairs. The sweepstake has been organised in aid of the hospitals. As far as I know, there have been very few, if any, public grumbles at the administration of the sweepstakes. That, to my mind, is the greatest tribute that could have been paid to the men who have been running these sweeps. Reference has been made to one promoter having a monopoly practically of the business. In the beginning of the debate the Minister was attacked and it was suggested that he was responsible for this promoter. The Minister, as he said himself, has nothing whatever to do with that matter. It is the Hospitals Committee which is primarily responsible for the running of the sweep. They, having considered the matter as carefully as they could, decided that a certain promoter was the best promoter that could be found and I agree. I agree that the present promoter is the best promoter that could be found in the circumstances, and until a better is available, one who the Committee consider would run the sweep on a better basis, I think there is a prospect of the continuance of the present promoter. However, nobody is tied to him. It is conceivable that a future Committee will engage a different promoter. I am glad to be able to exonerate the Minister from the charge that he had hand, act or part in the appointment of the promoter. I say again that the fact that the cost of running the sweep is only 7 or 8 per cent., notwithstanding that there was a provision in the Act allowing as much as 30 per cent., is a tribute both to the Committee and to the promoter.

There is one aspect of this measure I would like to point out. I believe that possibly a larger sum than 25 per cent might be allotted to hospitals. The Committee have gone to considerable trouble to run this sweepstake on the most economical lines. If it had not been for the care of the Committee expenses on this sweepstake might have been 20 or 25 per cent. No one would have lost anything except the prizewinners. What has happened is the savings of the Committee have been passed on to the prizewinners. In my opinion, the savings of the Committee ought to be passed to the hospitals. Up to the present what has happened is, owing to the great care of the Committee, the savings have been added to the prize money, and not distributed to the hospitals. It was felt by the Committee that that was the proper distribution, but I think, in the amending Bill there might be something to the effect that any savings out of the expenses should be passed to the hospitals. I do not think there are any other points in the new amending Bill that need discussion. It is a simple Bill. In the main. I am in agreement with it, and I am quite sure the House will pass it. I am sorry that the moral aspect of the case has been raised in connection with this Bill. It was not the proper time for discussion of that. There will be opportunities again of discussing that matter, and this is not the time to discuss the moral aspect.

The discussion has lasted a considerable time, and probably will prove valuable to the Minister. I was not an enthusiast in support of the original Bill to which this, we are considering, is an amendment. I was not enthusiastically in favour of it, not exactly for the reason Deputy Haslett has given just now, but for reasons for which he and others in this House opposed the original Bill, and probably will oppose this measure. I do not want to go, at length, into the moral question raised by sweepstakes. I personally do not see anything morally wrong in betting. I do see something morally wrong in betting, as in any other thing, carried to excess. Excess, to my mind, is what brings in the moral question. However, I am sure that nothing I will say, will be likely to alter Deputy Haslett's view, or the views of others who hold similar convictions.

One reason that I was not enthusiastically in favour of this principle of sweepstakes originally, as suggested in the original Bill, was because I was not in favour of stabilising the present conditions of Dublin hospitals. I was of opinion that we had too many hospitals in Dublin and that if something could have been done to centralise hospital administration in the city it would have been an advantage to medicine, an advantage to science perhaps in general, and an advantage in particular to the poor. However, that idea was not adopted, and we passed the Sweepstakes Bill. The sweepstakes have been a phenomenal success, judged from their financial result. Twelve of the hospitals, I think, have already reaped very considerable advantages, and it is natural that other hospitals, seeing the amount of money these twelve have already received, should seek to come in. Nobody is surprised that county hospitals and similar institutions have demanded a share in the sweepstake results. I am only surprised that institutions, other than hospitals, have not knocked at the Minister's door.

You may be perfectly certain that they have.

It is a wonder they have not appeared in the Bill.

I have kept it for hospitals.

For my own part I hope it will be kept to hospitals. I wonder would the Minister tell us why the hospitals included specifically by name in this Bill have been selected, because there are many similar institutions that, I am sure, once this list is published, would claim admittance also. I want to say nothing against the hospitals here. I know one, at any rate, the last one on the list, St. Mary's Open Air Hospital, Cappagh. That has done excellent work. I really would like to know from the Minister what particular principle of selection he has adopted, because, as I say, their inclusion and the exclusion of similar institutions is bound to give rise to considerable jealousy. If it does not give the Minister it will give a Deputy a considerable amount of trouble, because hospitals will want to know why they were not included.

Section 2 lays it down that "notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (2) of Section 1 of the principal Act that Act shall extend and apply to the following hospitals." That is the section that lays it down that 25 per cent. of the beds, reckoned over a period of a year, should be given to the poor. I do not see why these hospitals should be excluded from that position, if they have been excluded. I do not know why they have been definitely excluded from that condition. Perhaps the Minister has satisfied himself that they are, in fact, doing what the Bill originally asserts should be done. That may be so, but it looks strange that sub-section (2) of Section 1 is not to apply to that. If they are not giving that same amount of assistance to the very poor personally I believe that they do not deserve that special treatment that the Minister is giving to them here. Perhaps I am speaking in the dark. Perhaps the Minister would be able to inform us that they are, in fact, complying with the conditions. If they are not, I think they should comply with the conditions before they would be admitted.

With regard to the hospitals that have been enjoying the proceeds of these sweepstakes, I would like to know from the Minister what steps his Department has taken to see that these particular hospitals have complied with the conditions. The Minister proposes, in this Bill, to set up a Committee of Reference. It is a very good idea, I think, to examine closely into the affairs of every hospital seeking admission to the sweepstakes scheme. I do not know if it is wise of the Minister to drop that Committee of Reference idea, if I am correct that that is his intention, because, from my own knowledge, I am satisfied it would be wise, to examine closely into the condition of the hospitals, particularly their financial conditions in relation to all future sweepstakes. I say that, having a considerable amount of knowledge of certain hospitals in Dublin that have reaped large sums out of this hospitals sweepstakes scheme. I have a list here of the hospitals that have already got a considerable amount of money in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, etc., out of the sweepstake. The first hospital on this list received, out of the first sweepstake in November, 1930, roughly £30,000. Out of the second sweepstake it received over £37,000, and probably will receive out of the sweepstake now running another £20,000. That will be in or about £92,000 to £95,000.

The first hospital—Jervis Street—is not receiving the same amount. It is estimated that it will receive between £15,000 and £16,000.

If I am correctly informed, the estimate was based on the present scheme—based on the total amount realised being less than on the last sweep.

There are a greater number of hospitals included in the scheme. As a matter of fact, this hospital is receiving a lesser percentage than it received in the other scheme.

I am aware that this hospital is receiving a lesser percentage; nevertheless——

It is getting a huge sum.

Yes. The total will probably be near £90,000. Another hospital will get nearly £80,000, and a third will get nearly £100,000.

It will go very near it. Another really small hospital will receive £45,000.

What number on the list is that?

Number 4, and so on down the list. I know hospitals in Dublin that received huge amounts. and they are now in the position that they are looking out for schemes for spending the money. I know that to be a fact. They had debts and overdrafts that might have amounted to anything from £5,000 to £10,000. Now they have £70,000 or £80,000, and they are looking around for schemes in order to spend the money. It is for that reason that I say to the Minister that he would be wise in keeping to the idea of a committee of some kind.

If the Deputy will allow me to interrupt, I would like to say that he is the only one who has discussed the Bill, and I am, therefore, most interested in his speech. Section 6 keeps the Committee of Reference for the purpose of distribution of the money.

That is so. It keeps the Committee for the purpose of distribution of the funds. I would also like the Minister to keep the Committee for the purposes of investigation before the hospitals would be admitted to the sweepstakes.

Their eligibility?

Yes. I think that would be wise. I heard of a case where I believe misrepresentation of the financial position of an hospital was made use of, and a higher percentage was granted than would have been granted if the full facts were known to the Committee, to the Minister, or whomsoever was responsible. I am speaking of something I am aware of. Afterwards, I heard the individual who was responsible rather clap himself on the back on the good thing he had done for the hospital with which he was concerned, because it got a contribution greater than it was entitled to. I heard Deputy Hogan speak of the metropolitan mentality. I should have some of that. I am a representative of Dublin City, and I am a Dublin City man. Naturally I would like to see Dublin City and the city hospitals getting a generous amount, but I certainly would not stand for Dublin City hospitals getting more than they need, as I believe some of them may do, under present conditions. From my experience of some of the hospitals I would like to see county hospitals—especially in poorer areas where such places are ill-equipped, as we know they are, and where the people are unable to afford the necessary funds to equip them—get under the jurisdiction of the Department of Local Government, where the Minister would have a controlling voice in saying how much money should go to them.

Under this Bill, as Deputy Sir James Craig pointed out, a considerable sum of money will be available for county hospitals. Seeing such a large amount available, some people may be inclined to do what some Dublin hospitals are inclined to do. I would like to see this money doled out under proper control after the submission of a proper scheme. There is the greatest need for improved hospitals all over the country. I would like to see the poorer counties looked after first, where people are already heavily rated, and are not able to provide the hospital accommodation that they require. There may be other classes of county hospitals that are well-off and that are able to provide for themselves. The Minister for Local Government, I take it, knows the conditions in the country, and if there are, as I am informed there are, counties that could well afford to have decent hospitals, and that would not tax their people to provide them, then I would give primary consideration to the poorer counties.

I take it that the Minister proposes to nominate the individuals on the Committee of Reference. Would it not be wise to allow an outside body like the General Council of County Councils to nominate one or two of these individuals, subject to the approval of the Minister? The Minister could nominate the third, and also the chairman. Probably that would give additional confidence in the administration of such a body throughout the country. Several Deputies mentioned the amount of available surplus, as it is called, that goes to the hospitals out of the sweepstakes fund. I wonder would it be possible to raise the sum to 30 per cent. An enormous amount is given away in prize money. I know there is an argument urged in favour of keeping the prize money very high. It is urged that if it were not so high, the success that has been achieved would not have been achieved.

Nevertheless, out of the total amount that was raised 25 per cent. does not seem to be an adequate amount to go to the hospitals. I wonder does the Minister propose to permit these hospitals to go on for all time participating in these sweeps. I saw in the Press that the Minister received a deputation from people representing the hospitals that participated in the original sweepstakes and that have continued to participate, asking that anything that would happen through the introduction of this Bill should not jeopardise their position. You have heard what I have already said with regard to the amount of money at the disposal of some of these hospitals and their difficulty in finding ways of disposing of it. I have no doubt they will dispose of it properly, in putting up additional accommodation, in providing X-ray and other scientific apparatus. My idea is that there should be a limit to the amount of the extensions of these various hospitals in the city and that the money available should be under some authority. I would like to know, therefore, whether it is proposed to permit these same hospitals that have been participating in the Sweeps and that have got close on £100,000, to go on indefinitely participating. I do not think, even speaking as a Dublin city man and a Dublin city representative, that while there are hospitals in the country that are in needy circumstances, that that would be proper. I would like to hear the Minister's view on the matter.

Some other Deputy asked a question that I had noted to ask. That is, whether county sanatoria are to be permitted to benefit under this scheme. County hospitals are. Deputy Hogan, I think, mentioned district hospitals. I would also like to ask the Minister if county sanatoria are to benefit. That is all I have to say, except to again express my view that it is not a wise procedure to wipe out, in so far as certain hospitals are concerned, the condition relating to the number of free beds.

Deputy Bennett said that country representatives should try and make a case for county hospitals. I do not think that we will have any trying to make a case at all. We have a clear case. The county hospitals and district hospitals deal with two-thirds of the population of the Free State, and that fact alone entitles them to consideration under the Hospitals' Sweepstakes, to much more consideration than they are getting even under this Bill. For the last ten years the amount of work done in the county hospitals has increased four-fold. The percentage of patients sent to Dublin now or to Cork is very small, and on the decrease. In fact, the amount of work to be done by the county surgeon is altogether too much. As has been indicated here by Deputy Dr. Ward, on the Local Government Vote, the county surgeon is expected to perform every operation from the taking out of an eye or a tooth to serious abdominal operations. He is expected to do things that are specialised in by different surgeons in the city. That being so the amount of work done, whether it be right or wrong, in the county hospitals has increased four-fold in the last ten years and entitles them to consideration under this Bill.

Deputy Hogan has referred to the exhibition of the metropolitan mind. Certainly I can reiterate what he said. Deputy Hennessy, Deputy MacEntee, Deputy Little and Deputy Sir James Craig were unanimous that under this Bill county hospitals might get too much and they would not know what to do with it, and suggested to the Minister what safeguards he should put in this Bill to prevent them from squandering. They forget the fact that whereas a couple of dozen hospitals at the most benefited under the original Bill, 75 per cent. of the proceeds remained for these hospitals, and only 25 per cent. is available now for a total of 100 institutions approximately. There are, at least, one hundred county hospitals, district hospitals and county infirmaries. It is not hard to calculate what they will get out of 25 per cent. of the amount allocated from the proceeds of the hospitals sweeps if we take the profits of the sweep as a basis. As time goes on my opinion is that these sweeps will be on the decline, that they are not going to continue increasing. This original measure, when introduced, was not introduced as a Government measure. It was left to a free vote of the House. I do not think that the idea for this Bill came from the Government. The idea came from Dr. O'Dowd, although Deputy Shaw was not slow in claiming originality for it. He is never behind the door in that regard. It is, however, a good job that the Government and the Opposition in Westmeath are unanimous in this measure. If we cannot have hands across the sea we can have hands across the Jordan.

The Deputy is getting his own back now.

The proportion of the money that the hospitals will get out of this has been dealt with by Deputy MacEntee, Deputy O'Kelly and others. I said on the original Bill, and I have said it in this House since, that at least thirty per cent. should be devoted to the hospitals. I do not see any reason why that percentage should not be devoted, and we believe that the amount subscribed would be the same. The effect of increasing by five per cent. before did not take from the success of the sweep, and the making of the allowance to the hospitals up to thirty per cent. will not influence the subscriptions to the sweep in the future. The amount given to the promoters in fees is altogether too much. In the original Bill Deputy O'Kelly suggested that five per cent. should be the maximum. I think every fair-minded person in the House will agree that with that percentage the promoters will get off very well. Any balance and any economies should be devoted to the hospitals and not to further increasing the prizes.

While speaking on this matter we might express the hope that in the employment that this measure and the previous measures are giving, and will be giving, Irishmen will be chosen in the offices. A rumour is going about that foreigners have a big interest in the Hospitals Trust, and that the principal heads in the promotion of these sweepstakes are foreigners. I hope that that rumour is false. However, from the knowledge at our disposal we believe there is a lot of truth in the rumour. If that be so, what Deputy Davin advocated here should be done—that is to say, that the State should take over the business.

I notice here, in Section 2 of the Bill, the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Adelaide Road, Dublin, comes into the sweepstakes. I do not know why "Royal" should be in it. I do not know whether they are getting any grant from England because of this "Royal". The point I want to make about it is this: the fact that this hospital is getting benefit under the sweep should be a reason that all eye and ear cases which now come for treatment to the county and district hospitals and infirmaries should be sent on for treatment to the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, and that the Minister should make that a condition as to why this hospital should benefit by the Bill.

In Section 7 the apportionment of the twenty-five per cent. of the proceeds of the sweepstake is dealt with. I agree with Dr. O'Dowd that population is a wrong basis to go on. If we go on that basis the County Cork will get everything, and County Cork has done well enough already. I think that there is too much power given to the Minister for Local Government in this measure. He has absolute power as to how the money, when it is allocated on a population basis, is to be spent. There should be a clearer indication and a clearer direction to the Minister in this Bill than there is in sub-section (6), Clause 7.

We heard a great deal about Ireland's contribution to this fund. I wonder how the various people who got up and said that Ireland only contributed 9 per cent. of the sweepstake funds got their figures? I wonder how the Hospitals Trust made the estimate? If one goes down there any of these days one meets with hundreds of people going into the receiving offices handing in counterfoils and cash. Between Saturday next and the draw, how can the Hospital promoters arrive at the figure as to how much Ireland contributes and how much England contributes? I think that is only propaganda. Deputy Bennett goes on to state that contributing to sweepstakes is a blessing to the poor man. We have Deputy Haslett on the one side and Deputy Bennett on the other side—the two extremes. Gambling is an evil and we are benefiting by this failing of gamblers. Nobody buys a ticket, as far as I know, in order that the hospitals may benefit. Deputy Bennett knows people down in Limerick who buy tickets for the benefit of the hospitals. I know of no such people. People buy tickets in order to wake up some morning millionaires. That is the only reason for buying a ticket. That little failing was availed of by the promoters in the original Bill. We are very glad in this House to avail of it now for the benefit of the county hospitals.

Deputy Dr. Hennessy stated that no money should be given for reconstruction and that the money should be confined to providing surgical apparatus and X-ray equipment. From my knowledge of county hospitals, I can say that most of them are already equipped with X-ray apparatus. But most of them need maternity wards. They need separate buildings for the treatment of maternity cases, and that certainly would be one of the most desirable objects to which the funds from the sweepstakes could be devoted. There should be nothing put in the way of the county hospitals or the boards of health adding wings for maternity cases to county hospitals. It would be a great blessing and a benefit that the unfortunate patients suffering from tuberculosis should be taken away from the rest of the patients in the county hospital and put into sanatoria. Many counties have done that already, I think the majority have done it, but the sooner all counties do it the better for the unfortunate tuberculous patients. They should be kept apart from the other patients in the county hospital. It is a very bad thing that these patients should be in wards adjoining wards in which other patients are accommodated. Very often there is no privacy or quiet for those poor patients suffering from tuberculosis.

If the Minister does not see his way to give money towards the erection of tuberculosis hospitals or the purchase of mansions for tuberculosis hospitals he should see his way to give money towards the equipment of these tuberculosis hospitals when they are built or acquired. Speaking for myself, I welcome this Bill. I think it is overdue. I think also that the Minister should look into this fact under the next sweepstake. The Dublin hospitals will have got more than enough, and he should devote the whole of the proceeds from this onwards to the benefit of the county hospitals. Certainly the position to which Deputy O'Kelly refers will arise, but I cannot see from this to 1934 that position arising as regards the county hospitals, district hospitals and county infirmaries, when we consider that their number is well over one hundred.

I would like an assurance from the Minister when he is replying that the county infirmaries will participate in the twenty-five per cent. allocated to the boards of health. I am not sure from the wording of this section that a county infirmary would come within the ambit of this Bill. I am quite sure it is the intention of the Minister that it should. Section 7, sub-section (b), of the Bill states: "Shall be allocated by the said Minister in such manner as he shall direct to such one or more as he shall think fit of the hospitals (exclusive of any hospital entitled under the foregoing section to any other part of the said available surplus) for the sick poor of such county or county borough maintainable under the enactment relating to the relief of the destitute poor." I am not quite sure whether a county infirmary would be a place coming under the enactments relating to the relief of the destitute poor. There is a county infirmary in my county which is not directly under the Board of Health, but is governed by a committee, and the County Council, in view of giving a contribution from the rates each year, have the right to nominate a certain number on the committee. Otherwise it does not come under the control of the Board of Health. It is simply run by a committee of which the County Council nominate a proportion, because under the Local Government Act of 1898 they were entitled to give a contribution from the rates. I am not quite sure that these county infirmaries come under the provisions of the Bill. I am sure that it is the intention of the Minister that they should, and I should like an assurance that they do.

I wonder if there is room for another irrelevant speaker, as I should like to take up the issue raised by Deputy MacEntee. I find myself very largely in agreement with what he says. I do think that the principle of sweepstakes is involved in this Bill, and as I had not much opportunity of discussing it on the previous Bill, I should like to say a few words now. I speak against this Bill with considerable reluctance. I am acquainted with many people who were behind the original Bill and who were energetic in its promotion. I know that their motives were thoroughly disinterested. Indeed, some of the most disinterested and most civic, if I might say so, of our fellow-citizens are in their company. I know that their eyes have been fixed simply on the needs of the hospitals. That those needs are dire and extreme, nobody can deny, but I did believe, and I do believe still, that those needs could be met in another way than the way that the originators of the Private Bill chose to take.

I think it was Deputy Davin remarked that most people in this country felt with him and differed from Deputy MacEntee; that only a saint or a scholar could agree with Deputy MacEntee. I do not profess to be either. I did read a little history and I have not forgotten it, and I do know that if we are to learn anything from history we might learn this: that other States have tried lotteries, have tried these big schemes for raising money and getting it cheap, and have found that they paid dearly for it. To put it shortly, experience shows that this form of raising money cheaply tends to rot the economic life of the nation; tends to sap the moral stamina; tends to undermine the belief that there is only one way of getting money, and that is by work. Nations have learned that and have set about checking lotteries and blotting them out.

That experience we have forgotten, or else we have yielded to a sudden temptation. This temptation is becoming not less but greater. We are playing the usual trick of saying, "We will be better to-morrow; we will put it off until New Year's Day; we are going to be good in 1934." I have done that myself. I have decided to give up things and put off the day for giving them up. You know what happens. I suppose we are all the same. Better stop it at once. We are trying to justify this thing, which I think is bad, by pointing to other things that are admittedly bad. We point to the increase in the growth of turf accountants in our city and say: "You permit them and refuse a little flutter like this that is bringing us not merely money but reputation." To say that a sweepstake is not as bad as the institution of turf accountants, is simply trying to justify the bad by the worse. It does not make the sweepstake good.

As Deputy O'Kelly said, the whole thing is a matter of degree. Gambling in itself I do not regard as an evil, inside limits. It is its excess that I condemn. I certainly have seen enough of these present sweepstakes and of the people who have gone in for them to realise that they are not benefiting our people. The Minister will forgive me for not speaking to the Bill, but I would say this: I do believe, with Deputy MacEntee, that the widening of the scope is going to make it very difficult for us to stop the institution of sweepstakes in 1934. We have put our feet on a very slippery path; we are going down the hill and we have not got a brake.

I do not propose to delay the House long, but I should like that what I have to say should go on record. Much has been said about the method of control that the Minister should assert over the distribution of the money acquired from the various sweepstakes and also as to who should get it. I believe that we will some day or other cease to acquire money by this means for institutions in the country. Unless I am very wrong, we might yet decide, if the country is going to go on as it is going now, to raise money by sweepstakes which is now raised by taxation, when we find they are becoming so popular all over the world. I do not care if one part of the country gets more money than another from this. I say that the money should be distributed where it is required. But I should like the Minister to think of what will happen if institutions in the country and in the city go in for extravagant building schemes for which they will afterwards have to find the money necessary for upkeep. If, when the sweepstakes cease, these hospitals find themselves with a bigger expenditure and less income, is the Minister not really opening up for the future an extra imposition on the rates or extra taxation in order to raise funds to keep the hospitals going?

The Government have themselves been very quick to take advantage of the tremendous success of the sweepstakes, inasmuch as they have cut down the State grants to hospitals which have participated in them. It is only fair to assume that if the Government are going to shed their responsibility for the upkeep of these hospitals while they are benefiting from the sweepstakes, the hospitals and the public will expect the Government to come to the rescue of the hospitals, to a greater extent when the income from the sweepstakes ceases, and when the expenditure for the upkeep of the hospitals will have become greater, owing to the extra buildings and equipment which they will have provided. That applies particularly to the country.

Some Deputies said that the city Deputies were anxious to see all the money kept for the city hospitals. I would not care if all the money from the next sweepstakes went to the country hospitals, provided the city hospitals had enough to keep them going. It is not so very long since the Minister came into this House like a forsaken child when the original Bill was introduced. Now the Minister is taking care to create new jobs and to fill these jobs himself.

I say this whole thing should be left to the hospitals or to the county councils in the country, and that it is for them to set up the persons who should decide what the hospitals should get out of certain proceeds. It is not for the Dáil even, or for the Minister to have new positions created and paid for out of the funds of these sweepstakes. I believe that in 1934 we will not be looking to the finishing of this system of raising money, but we will find ourselves in the position of having to continue to find some other idea to support the demand for more money to be got in this way. A lot of people from both sides have talked about the morals and everything else of this transaction. I do not know where the difference and the degree come in, and how one person can satisfy himself about one thing, and turn round and deery another.

The Government is reaping a very handsome return from the tax on betting transactions, and the taxation of the country is benefiting from it, but if it is fair for the Government to derive taxation from a duty on betting transactions, either on the course or through the betting shops, it is also just as moral, I presume, for the hospitals to get money through sweepstakes. What I really want to say is this: I find great fault with the Government for having ceased to continue their contribution to the hospitals, because the original idea was that the Sweepstakes Act was to be a temporary measure; it was to get the hospitals out of immediate debt and to help them to equip themselves with the more essential and more important implements and surgical apparatus. Although the Government demands certain services from the hospitals, it now turns round and cuts down the grants, which are already small enough. My one objection to the sweepstakes idea was that the Government would use it to shed their responsibility to the people who were running the hospitals. Next to proper housing, the health of the people of the country is the most important item. If the Government is going to shelve its responsibilities on the slightest pretext, I think it is quite accurate to say that they were misleading the Dáil when they said that their idea was to make the Hospital Trust Act a temporary measure. I believe the Government will keep this thing going as long as there is any return from it.

Deputy MacEntee has stated in his speech, possibly in a better way than I could do it, the views that I hold in this matter. We have to face the existence of sweepstakes and to try and make the best use we can of them. It was rather amusing to hear Deputy Sir James Craig say that no county hospital should get more than a certain amount because they would not have use for it. I would like to hear some suggestion as to what they should do with any surplus the hospitals themselves might have. Do Deputies not think it might be possible for the county hospitals, if they receive a certain amount of money, to put up new buildings or to rebuild or to equip themselves with a certain amount of apparatus, to invest the money in such a way that it would bring in certain dividends to pay for the future upkeep of their extensions? I think it would be very wrong to try and bring about a position where you would have the beneficiaries afterwards quarrelling over the spoil. I would urge the Minister to keep a very rigid control over the way in which the money is spent.

I am connected with two Dublin hospitals, one of which benefits under the sweep, and I am glad to see the Board of that hospital decide to make provision in connection with any extensions they might build so as to be able to look after its upkeep in the future, so that when the sweep ceases there will be no extra burden either on the voluntary subscribers or on the city or anybody else, and they would be able to give not only the present but an extended service to the community. If all the hospitals acted as the hospital I have mentioned did there would be no difficulty. But many hospitals which are getting sweep money are embarking upon huge schemes. Their expenditure is becoming tremendous both in the acquisition of new property and in rebuilding, and they are not looking to the day when their income from sweepstakes would cease and when they may have to find income elsewhere for the upkeep of their extensions. I would rather see the Minister making sure that those hospitals embarking upon such expenditure should lay aside money for the upkeep of the additional extensions and commitments they have gone in for. Instead of that the Minister is concerning himself largely with the right of appointing certain individuals, and another Minister is to have the right of fixing their salaries and the Hospitals Committee has to pay them. The right of hiring and firing these people rests solely with Ministers. I think these are matters that should concern the hospitals or the county councils in conjunction with the Dublin Hospitals Committee.

I was expecting that the Minister would give the House more detailed information as to reports and statements of the previous two sweeps. Many of us are very anxious to know exactly what the figures are and how they have been disbursed and what the expense has been, and who have benefited in the shape of commissions arising through agencies. I understand that these statements are to be put before the Dáil. The Minister has surely information in regard to the two previous sweeps, and if he does not intend to give us particulars here perhaps he would state how and where we would get this information. Is it to be obtained through a system of question and answer?

It is to be obtained by reading the Hospitals Act.

Will the Minister tell me how many official agents there are of the Hospitals Trust?

If the Deputy will read the Act he will see I have no more power and no more to do with the distribution of the accounts than any ordinary member of the Dáil. The Hospitals Trust has to send the accounts to every Minister and to every member of the Dáil.

I did not understand that every member of the Dáil has to get them.

Because the Deputy has not read the Act.

I have read the Act. May I take it that any information I require to elucidate or to explain to me the particulars of the balance sheet and to make them quite clear I can get from the Hospitals Trust?

Not from the Hospitals Trust, but from the Hospitals Committee.

Does the Minister know who are the Hospitals Committee?

If the Deputy buys a ticket he will see the names, or if he borrows one.

When the Minister was making a speech I was satisfied he did not know the difference between the Hospitals Trust and the Hospitals Committee, and he does not even know now.

Oh, yes, he does.

No. Because the Minister spoke of certain points, particularly in regard to the continuity of sweeps, which could only be an argument used by the promoters and not the Hospitals Committee.

It was used by the Hospitals Committee, Deputy Sir James Craig being one of them.

Then it is to the Hospitals Committee that we are to apply for all this information?

Very well. I want certain information, and I hope to get it in that way. I also desire to say that do not wish to underestimate the organising ability of the promoters, but neither do I want to overestimate it or join with those who are paying glowing tributes to the promoters as being wonderful business men. It is common knowledge that in practically every country outside this the running of sweepstakes and the selling of tickets are illegal. As a result, this country, being one of the few countries in which sweepstakes are permissible, the organisers have an exceptional chance, as they have practically the whole world from which to get returns. Under those circumstances, getting £1,000,000 from the whole world is not such a phenomenal feat. It is not so wonderful. We may yet find that other countries will adopt certain restrictions on the sale of tickets, and that these will make the returns here much less. That is why I rise to say that I hope that the Minister will concern himself with seeing that expenditure on the part of the hospitals, whether in cities or the country, will not be indulged in to the extent that it would leave a burden on the ratepayers at some future date when the Bill ceases, or, as Deputy Kennedy said, when we may visualise a falling off in the returns.

Mr. Broderick

I think that this measure has been pretty well debated, so that I have no desire to delay the House. As a country Deputy and one who knows the difficulties under which boards of health are conducting county hospitals, I desire to say a few words and to endorse what has been said by other Deputies who have had experience on such boards. In County Westmeath we have district and county hospitals to look after, and we have to turn patients away from the hospital in Athlone. We want to extend these institutions, and up to the present the only way we could do so was to put further burdens on the ratepayers. Now, however, we have found a means through sweepstakes, which have done such great good to the Dublin City hospitals. We naturally think that we should have the same facilities for carrying out these extensions as those which have been enjoyed by the Dublin hospitals. We would then be able to bring our county and district hospitals up to date. I congratulate the Minister on introducing this Bill and on giving a chance of improving and equipping our hospitals in an up-to-date manner.

I think that the Chair and the Minister have displayed great patience during this discussion, which has included many things very wide of those contained in the Bill. I was surprised to hear a Deputy say that other means could be devised to get money for our hospitals. Those who have been connected with management committees of hospitals for the last ten years will, no doubt, be pleased to have his advice and to learn how that state of affairs can be brought about.

Deputy Kennedy said that all this was merely propaganda for the Free State, and that only about 9 per cent. of the money subscribed was got within it. I am certain that the chartered accountants will be able to give him the figures to convince him that it is not propaganda. There has been much talk about the promoters, but I suppose it is not the Minister's place to defend them. It surprised me to hear that the promoters got 25 per cent. I know, as a matter of fact, that in connection with the two sweeps they did not get even half of that. Some Deputy mentioned the word "foreign" in connection with this matter. We know that there are thousands of girls, and some men, who are receiving in wages up to £100,000, and we thank the foreigners for sending this money to keep what might be called an industry going. It has been remarked that we have got the best promoters we could get. We had no alternative in regard to the promoters. Promoters, Ltd., came along and said "There is £100,000." That took our breath away. They told us that 50 per cent. would go to the winners, 25 per cent. to the hospitals, and the rest in expenses throughout the country. Everything possible in connection with the sweep is bought in this country and, between printing, building and other expenditure, upwards of a quarter of a million has been circulated amongst ourselves. That is much more than we ourselves have contributed, while the promoters are getting the original amount which Deputy O'Kelly, Deputy Bennett and others who sat on the Committee to implement the Bill decided that they should get.

I am pleased at the introduction of this Bill, and I compliment the Minister on making provision for the county and district hospitals. I also wish to return thanks to the promoter of the original Bill, Deputy Sir James Craig. No one can realise the great advantages that have been derived, and the blessings which that Bill has brought to the sick poor of the country. It has placed hospitals in such a position as to ease them financially and make them in every way up to date. That is magnificent work, and, no matter what moral may be attributed to it by some Deputies or those of the outside public who do not approve of the scheme, there is certainly one moral to be drawn, and that is that it has served a great need and has relieved the sufferings of people in this country to an extent which was never before thought possible. As regards contributions to county hospitals, I suggest respectfully that they be made as large as possible. I know that the hospitals in Dublin are now reasonably well provided for, and I am glad of it, but our county hospitals and infirmaries, as well as our district hospitals, are sadly lacking in anything in the shape of modern equipment.

Having regard to the primitive equipment of these hospitals, I would like to see a larger sum allotted to them in order to bring them to an up-to-date condition. The expenses which would be incurred to instal modern equipment in these hospitals would be enormous. In districts down the country people suffering from various diseases who require immediate attention, or perhaps operations, have in many cases to proceed to Dublin at a very big cost to themselves. The poorer people in many places could not afford to expend what would be incurred in bringing them to Dublin for operations and treatment in hospitals with modern equipment. In such cases, owing to the extreme expense, these poor people are deprived of the services of surgeons in the city. In many districts down the country we have surgeons of outstanding ability, but owing to the lack of equipment they are not in a position to perform the operations which they otherwise could carry out at a nominal cost. They are not in a position to perform these operations, for no fee in some cases, as they would be if the equipment were provided. That is the sort of service which medical men would really perform for the poor people were these facilities afforded them. In the circumstances, it is much more essential that county hospitals should be provided with modern equipment.

In my own county we have a county infirmary and a county hospital in Longford, but we have no modern equipment. We have no X-ray apparatus of any kind. If it is necessary to have patients X-rayed, they have to be sent to the nearest county, which is Westmeath. In the course of that journey the patient may suffer serious consequences, if not actual death. That is the important feature of the matter for counties such as ours. The county is small, it has a small population, and the sums contributed by ratepayers and voluntary contributors are not sufficient to enable the hospitals to purchase the equipment necessary to render these services to the poor. On the question of distributing the money on a population basis, I say that considerable hardship will be imposed on many counties with a small population if that basis is adhered to. If the money is distributed in that way, counties such as I represent will not benefit to any great extent. The amount that would be allocated to these counties would be of very little use, while cities and towns such as Dublin, Cork and Limerick, which have already benefited under former sweeps, will come in for a further share on the population basis. I hope that on the Committee Stage amendments will be introduced to give these small counties the same privileges that counties with a larger and a wealthier population enjoy at present.

I find that all Deputies are as one on the major question of the Bill. One feature of the debate is that each Deputy tries to take the wind out of other Deputies' sails in showing how he is accountable for the introduction of the Bill. For myself, I would like to say that I have been an ardent supporter of the measure and was very anxious for the introduction of this Bill to assist county hospitals. The matter that most concerns as now is to see that an equitable distribution of the money takes place, particularly as regards those counties which are poor and unable to supply the necessary hospital equipment themselves. I know that a considerable amount of money is being subscribed from outside sources in other countries, but I know also that very large sums have been contributed from many counties throughout Ireland. I venture to say that the amount of money contributed in the Free State was about 50 per cent. greater than has been contributed from other countries, pro rata to the population. Yet we are very thankful for the contributions made by other countries. On the point as to whether the money was contributed entirely for the relief of hospitals or otherwise, there is this to be said: that the inducement to people to subscribe was the chance of winning a large sum of money in most cases. A large prize is a very great inducement, and I do not think it would be at all advisable to reduce the prize money to any great extent. If we maintain reasonably handsome prizes and offer the people something they want; if we offer them value for the money they contribute and have the terms as attractive as at present, the sweeps will continue to be successful. Many Deputies criticised the Bill on the morality of having sweeps at all. If you ask those Deputies is it possible that they have not contributed to the sweep it is very questionable whether they could answer in the affirmative. I would hardly like to challenge some of the Deputies who have been criticising it from that point of view. If you ask them to turn out their pockets probably you will find a few tickets in their possession.

You may be sure of it.

At the same time it is scarcely worth while saying that it is immoral or that it is tending towards immorality. It is quite a legitimate proposition. Betting and gambling have been going on since the beginning of the world, and will continue to exist until the end of the world. It is a reasonable and a fair system and no great risk is involved. People who might have to deprive themselves of certain necessaries of life for this purpose might have on many occasions deprived themselves of other necessaries of life for other purposes not so laudable. I trust that when this Bill is before the House on the Committee Stage the Minister will introduce some necessary amendments in order to make the Bill fairer to counties with smaller populations, and that counties that have no great means at their disposal will get a better share than the amount suggested here, a 25 per cent. on the basis of the population.

I anticipated that the discussion on this Bill would occupy something, like half an hour or, at the outside, an hour. I am afraid that I would make an extremely bad prophet. I think the reason that this discussion drew out to such very considerable length was that Deputy MacEntee, having started an attack on the general principle, made a speech which had nothing whatever to do with the amendments contained in the Bill, and caused most other people to follow him in his irrelevancies.

May I point out to the Minister that the Ceann Comhairle is the judge of relevancy in this House and not the Minister for Justice?

The Deputy, however, has made so many charges that I feel it necessary to follow him to some very small extent. I feel that if the Deputy had gone to the trouble of making himself acquainted even with the details of the Hospitals Bill he would not have made the speech which he made to-day.

He started off about my insisting on a virtual monopoly in the Hospitals Trust. He stated that the Hospitals Trust alone would be able to promote sweeps. He said that without the slightest knowledge of the facts, and also with a culpable ignorance of the facts, because if he had read the original Bill, he would know that I have not got anything to do with the promotion or formulation of the scheme or with the distribution of the money. My functions begin and end with seeing that the scheme comes within the four corners of the Bill. I have power to reject, amend or accept it and nothing else, and the responsibility for the details of it is not my responsibility, and the details are not mine. I think I should go on and say, since he has attacked the Hospitals Committee as he has done, and said we should send it all round, that one body should not get the whole monopoly, might I ask to whom they should send it around? They have an organisation which is a success, and Deputy MacEntee, in his wisdom, comes along and says "scrap your existing organisation, get a new body, new individual promoters who will get together new premises, and new staff, and start with an entirely different scheme on probably different lines."

The Minister is either wilfully stupid or deaf.

You are to fling out the existing persons.

I said that apparently the Minister had decided that there was to be a monopoly, and the phrase had reference to what took place immediately after the first sweepstake, when he, as he himself admitted, made it publicly known that he would not approve of a second Hospitals Committee being set up.

I would not have a second Hospitals Committee set up because I would not have rival schemes, and I think the figures here show that in refusing to have rival schemes, and in insisting that hospitals should not compete one with another, I took a wise course.

And thereby secured a monopoly for the Minister's friends.

I secured no monopoly. The Deputy evidently has some disgruntled friend behind him, and that accounts probably for the speech which he has made. I will not follow Deputy MacEntee through the rest of his speech in his courageous endeavour to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, in his endeavour to denounce as a moralist the hospital sweep.

I never said that sweepstakes were immoral. When the original Bill was before this House I was one of those who was prepared to support it because of the conditions in the hospitals, but I saw that the developments ought to be carefully watched. I never said it was immoral to run a sweepstake, and I never held it is immoral to gamble, but I saw that there may be dangerous developments.

The Deputy went further and said that there were already dangerous developments and painted a lurid picture of people selling their furniture to buy sweepstake tickets. If that is the case the proper attitude that Deputies should take up would be to introduce a Bill for the abolition of sweepstakes altogether and the repeal of the existing Act.

Deputy Davin, who spoke after Deputy MacEntee, declared that I had at one time held up my hands in denunciation of this scheme and that now I was in favour of it. My attitude has remained completely unchanged from the beginning. It has always been the same. I said I saw that it was to the very greatest interest of the hospitals that this should come in; that I did not see any harm in a scheme which would benefit the hospitals, but I did see if we allowed the hospitals sweep we would have to allow other sweeps in the future, and for that particular reason I opposed the Second Reading of the Act. I opposed it not because I thought the thing was wrong, but because I believed and still believe that you have not got to the end of sweepstakes.

The Act was passed and then I was in the position that I had either to sit down and sulk because I was opposed to the Act or else administer it. Which was the proper course for me? What I have done since the Dáil put the responsibility on my shoulders is I have shouldered this responsibility and have endeavoured to see that the hospitals scheme will be within the limits imposed on it and be properly carried out. Deputy Good and Deputy O'Kelly also talked about the centralisation of hospitals. I do not think that arises here. It is a matter for the hospitals themselves. If they consider it is the proper thing to centralise, now is the time. They should really consider it when they have got very large sums of money in their hands. I know a great number of them are contemplating large building schemes.

Before I deal with the real criticisms which have been directed to this amending Bill I would like to say one word about a matter we have coming up again and again, that is the alleged small proportion of the proceeds which the hospitals obtain. To my mind, the hospitals get as much as they ought to get. The original Act said that they should receive a minimum of twenty per cent. They are receiving five per cent. more, making it twenty-five per cent. I think, considering the enormous sums they have received and considering, when the Derby Sweep is finished, the hospitals will have received practically a million pounds, that nobody can say that the hospitals have done badly.

Is the Minister making the case that the hospitals have received more than is sufficient?

If the Deputy would listen to my speech he would understand the case I am making. I think I will make myself so clear that even Deputy MacEntee can follow me. I said that the hospitals have received twenty-five per cent. I do not think anyone can say that the hospitals have not received a due and ample sum when, out of three sweeps, they have received one million pounds.

To look at it from the other point of view, of the person who purchases a ticket; if this were a mutual sweep everything except expenses would go into the prize fund. What happens here is that the purchase money of the tickets goes to a fund from which 25 per cent. is taken away on behalf of the hospitals. Have not the people who purchased tickets some moral claim, a claim that in good faith they should be given a reasonable sum of money to draw from? You can entice them by making them give the hospitals fifty per cent.; they will buy just the same. Granted they do, I do not want to go out sticking the people who purchased tickets. What I want to do, and what I think the Hospitals Committee ought to do is to see that the persons who buy tickets in their sweep get fair play, and get a fair and honest proportion of the proceeds of the sweep. Let them see, when they buy tickets in a sweep which is promoted in this country, that the idea is not to regard them as people that will be "stuck" if you like. Let them see that we wish a reasonable amount to go to charity and that we do not want an unreasonable amount to be taken from the funds from which they draw. I think somebody has to look after the purchasers of tickets. The hospitals have plenty to look after them. The purchasers of tickets are an unorganised body, and I think it is the business of this House to see that they get fair play and that a fair proportion of the money supplied goes amongst those who subscribe to the draw.

I come now to the actual criticism launched at the Bill itself. On Section 2, Deputy O'Kelly wished to know why some hospitals were now included, and if they came under the original scheme. I may tell the Deputy that for instance, as far as Peamount Sanatorium is concerned it could not possibly have participated because its new village scheme was not established in 1929. The Deputy will recollect that there is one standard year, the accounts of which are taken. That hospital, and also the Lourdes Hospital had not started work in 1929. The Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital I have already dealt with, I will deal with it shortly again. It stands on the same footing as the Dental Hospital. It does the major portion of its work in the dispensary. A tremendous amount of charity work is done in the dispensary department to which a great number of people go for what I call dispensary treatment. They do not stop there just as they do not stop in the Dental Hospital. I think the same principle applies in an hospital of that nature and that how the beds are given is not the real standard that ought to be taken. Similarly I think Cappagh Hospital does very good work but, owing to its nature, it is not precisely the kind of hospital which I believe even the promoters of the Bill in the first instance visualised.

Under paragraph (c) twenty-five per cent. of the total accommodation for indoor patients has to be given at a rate not exceeding 10/- weekly. That was really framed when persons were looking to large hospitals here where temporary patients go in. It was not really in contemplation as to whether hospitals of that nature would or would not come in. I think the real test is: Does an hospital really do good, charitable work? If it does, whether it comes within the formula —which after all is an artificial formula—does not matter very much.

I stated a comparatively short time ago that if any hospitals that did not come within the provisions of the Bill wished to have their names considered, I would consider them. The ones that put their names forward, and that I considered would come reasonably within the scope of the Hospitals Committee for charitable work, are here. One institution—the Blind Asylum— would like to be put into the Sweep. I had, however, regretfully to refuse because it was not an hospital, and did not come within the general scope. I might say generally that there was talk about payment for nurses and setting up assistance for lunatic asylums. I did not think either of these would come within this Bill or the original Act. I am endeavouring to keep to the spirit of the original Act for the benefit of the hospitals.

I come to another question—the proportion of the proceeds which ought to go to participating hospitals, the portion which ought to go to county hospitals, and the basis on which it should go. In the first place all hospitals which are maintainable under an enactment relating to the relief of the destitute poor can receive portion of this money, and I think that takes in, as far as I know, all the county hospitals. I may be wrong in that as far as Meath is concerned, because I am not completely conversant with county hospitals. If the Deputy will consult the Minister for Local Government he will be able to make the position clear. The question is put forward as to the basis upon which the money should be distributed, whether it should be left to the unfettered discretion of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, or whether there should be a rule of thumb principle for distribution, and that the rule of thumb distribution would be, of course, on the population basis.

The population basis seems to me to be very fair. It is said that it will not help the poor or the smaller counties. On the contrary, I think it will. After all, the poorer counties are the thickly populated counties, and it is these counties which will get the larger sums of money. You may have a small county which gets a comparatively small sum of money, while another county, twice the size, will receive twice as much money, but then it will require twice as big a county infirmary, or, at any rate, twice as much accommodation for poor patients. You will not get smaller populated counties as poor as largely populated counties. Large western counties, for instance, are fairly thickly populated, and I think they will require more than some of the smaller counties which have not perhaps so many poor people to provide for. I do not think there is anything else I need go into now. I venture to say that a considerable amount of the discussion we have had will be repeated on the Committee Stage. I venture to think also, that a great deal of it might have been deferred to the Committee Stage, but we will wait until then.

The Minister has made regulations, I understand, by which this money up to the present should be distributed only for the purposes of capital expenditure. I would like to ask whether there is any provision in making that distribution to the effect that the accommodation will be for the benefit of the poor in whatever extensions are made.

I can assure the Deputy that I have no power to make any regulation as to how money is to be expended by a hospital. I have no such power under the Act, and I have never attempted to make any such regulation. If the Deputy would like to know my personal views I think a hospital should lay by a certain amount of money. Not only should they satisfy their present necessary requirements but they should capitalise half of their income, because they have chosen this particular method as the method of raising money, and rejected the voluntary method.

The point is that the Minister is proposing under this Bill to allow certain hospitals, which have hitherto been excluded because they were not able to prove that they were giving 25 per cent. of their accommodation of free beds, to participate in these sweeps. I understand that the money which is now granted to these hospitals can go to the building of private hospitals where fees will be taken from patients.

The Deputy is under a complete misapprehension. If they participate in the scheme they will have to put before the Committee of Reference their claims to receive money. There is no sum of money allocated to them.

The Minister has not answered the question whether there is any safeguard to prevent hospitals from spending this money on the building of private hospitals.

There is none except that they will come before the Committee of Reference, and that committee will see what their needs are.

May I take it that any money that has been got up to the present will be distributed as the Committee of Reference require it?

Certainly not. The money which has hitherto been received by the hospitals will be distributed under the original Act, and under the original Act they are complete masters. I have nothing to do with it. I have no control over it.

The Minister omitted one point. He did not give us any information as to the amount of money the promoters get and as to what check there is on the expenses incurred by the promoters in connection with each of these sweeps.

The amount is settled by the Hospitals Committee, who draw up the scheme. They also appoint auditors, and the auditors see how the money goes. I understand that there is an auditor working there constantly.

Has the Minister any discretion in the matter?

I have the discretion that I may refuse to sanction a scheme or that I may modify a scheme; that is all. I am not taking upon myself to regulate the bargain between the promoters and the Hospitals Committee. It is not my business. I daresay the promoters of the Act are competent persons, and they make the best bargain they can.

Question—That the Bill be read a Second Time—put and agreed to.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 27th May.