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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 4 Apr 1946

Vol. 100 No. 10

Public Health Bill, 1945—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:—
To delete sub-section (2).—(Deputy Costello).

The main point made in relation to sub-section (2) was that sub-section (1) of this section gives the Minister power, which he indicated he already had under the 1887 Act, to isolate a person suffering from infectious disease and to detain him. Sub-section (2) goes much further along the road of interference with the individual in that it allows the individual to be removed completely from any possibility of his being attended either by the medical practitioner or the nursing aid that he desired himself and hands him over to the State machine for the purposes of medical treatment and attention. The Minister has given us no indication of any kind that these are not completely new powers. Not only are they completely new powers, but in fact they go to the greatest possible extreme that the Government can go in taking powers including, as has been pointed out in the long discussion that took place here yesterday in relation to paragraph (h), power to treat and even perform operations on patients against their will using force in the matter. The Parliamentary Secretary has had time to think over the various aspects of the matter put to him yesterday and we should be glad to know if he has changed his mind in any way in regard to these proposals.

I did not hear what the Parliamentary Secretary said.

He has not changed his mind from what he stated here on several occasions yesterday. We discussed this matter then in the greatest detail, in all its aspects.

Mr. Morrissey

In that case, we can only see if it is possible to change the mind of other members of the House. In case there may be any member of the House who has not read sub-section (2), I should like to direct his attention in particular to a couple of the headings in sub-section (2). Paragraph (e) states:—

"after the patient is detained, he shall be taken to the hospital or other place specified in the order and shall, subject to the provisions of this sub-section, be there detained and isolated until such medical officer certifies that he is no longer a probable source of infection."

I think a number of people inside and outside this House are of opinion, apparently, that this sub-section gives powers to deal only with specified and established infectious diseases. I want again to direct their attention to the fact that these powers are given to deal not only with cases where the medical officer certifies that a patient is actually suffering from the disease but where he has reason to think that the patient may be a probable source of infection. That person can be taken, detained and isolated or sent to any hospital or other place which may or may not be in his locality or in his county.

Let me again direct particular attention to paragraph (h). If this House is going to vote these extraordinary powers, Deputies ought to do so with their eyes open. Paragraph (h) states:—

"The registered medical practitioner having charge of the patient in such hospital or other place may cause anything to be done in relation to the patient——"

The Parliamentary Secretary proposes to change that slightly, very slightly. The wording that he proposes to introduce is that the medical officer may take any precaution and, as he pointed out, that makes no material difference to the powers given in the sub-section.

The paragraph goes on:—

"——which in his opinion is necessary or expedient to prevent the spread of infection from the patient, including in particular——"

Again I think it is necessary to stress here that what he may do is not confined to the following three things, but it says here specifically that he may do in particular, using whatever force is necessary, "(i) the cleansing, disinfection or disinfestation of the patient, (ii) the cleansing, disinfection, disinfestation or destruction of the clothing of the patient and (iii) the medical examination of the patient and the taking from him of blood or other specimens for bacteriological or protozoological examination or test".

I want to put this to Deputies. There is no use in trying to salve our consciences by saying that those things are unlikely to happen or, taking the Parliamentary Secretary's phrase, that we must assume that they will not happen. If there is no danger of their happening then the Parliamentary Secretary does not want these powers. What we are asked here, in effect is to give to the Minister powers which will enable any person or any child up to the age of 16 to be taken forcibly. We are asked to give him power to use whatever force is necessary to take patients against their will in the case of an adult and against the will of the child and the wishes of a parent in the case of a child, to any hospital or other specified place and to perform on them, not only what is set out here in particular, but any other operation which the medical officer may think necessary.

I want to ask members of this House and I should like to address this particularly to those who are fathers of families—it may happen to your own child or it may happen to your neighbour's child—will you lightly give powers which will enable your child or your neighbour's child to be taken forcibly to hospital and to have any operation which the medical officer deems necessary or expedient performed on that child against your wishes or against the wishes of the child? Remember that is what you are asked to do. Remember that is travelling very far. It is no exaggeration at all to say that the step from that position to what was done in certain countries on the Continent in recent years, is a very short one.

I, like other speakers on this side, am perhaps as much concerned with the removal of the danger of infection from the community as any Deputy who is in favour of the sub-section. I, or some member of my family, am as likely to be infected as any other person, but, as was stressed here yesterday, while the community undoubtedly have rights, the individual citizen also has them. We are being asked here to do something that, unquestionably, is revolutionary, and to do it without any case having been made for the proposal by the Parliamentary Secretary. He has not attempted to demonstrate that conditions are such in this country that these powers are absolutely essential. Not only has it not been demonstrated that such revolutionary powers are necessary or essential, but no attempt has been made to do so. These are perhaps the most drastic powers that the House has ever been asked to pass. I do not think the House ought to give them lightly to any Minister or Government. Deputies cannot absolve themselves by saying that these things are not likely to happen, or that we must assume they will not happen. Once this Bill becomes an Act, the intentions of the Parliamentary Secretary, or the Minister, will not matter two pins. They will have no more weight in the operation of the Act than my opinion would. All that will matter is what is in the Act of Parliament, set down there in black and white, and not intentions.

What about Ministerial amendment No. 122?

Was the Deputy here last night when it was being discussed?

What about it? It was pointed out yesterday, more clearly and more effectively that I could attempt to do it by Deputies on this side of the House, that that particular amendment made very little difference, so far as these powers are concerned. I welcome the Deputy's question, but I shall leave the answering of it to somebody who is perhaps better fitted to do so than I am, and to explain also the little actual change it will make, and how little it will take from the extraordinary powers that are being sought in this sub-section.

I think this is the most drastic section in the Bill. I would say it is tyrannical. It gives the Minister power to make regulations to do what he thinks in a case where a doctor may be of opinion, or has reason to think, that a person has become infected. The words "may be" are all over the section. I want to know if a doctor has the right to go into a workshop, take a man from his work, intern him in an institution, and there subject him to blood tests? That has happened. I know that, when the blood tests are found to be negative, the Minister has power to compensate the man for whatever damage may have been done to his clothing in the course of disinfection. The Minister has power to do that, but suppose the man is away from his work for six or seven days, and that the doctor's opinion in regard to him turns out to be unjustified, will the Minister compensate the man for the loss of his week's wages? Quite recently there was an outbreak in the city, and certain people were thought to be suffering from paratyphoid. A number of men were brought to an institution where blood tests were taken. They were found not to be suffering from this disease. I submit that was a grave injustice to the persons concerned that they should be taken away and subjected to those tests. That is why I say the section is tyrannical. I know that under certain of the Public Health Acts a doctor will not perform certain operations on young children without the consent of the parents. Unless this section is amended a doctor can, apparently, do anything he likes with a child without the parent's consent. As Deputy Morrissey asked a few moments ago, is that the kind of freedom that you want to give your neighbour's child or to your neighbour—that his household can be interfered with to such an extent that his child can be taken away from him and will not be told the tests to which the child is going to be subjected? I think the Minister should take back this section and amend it.

Deputy Burke was anxious to know the effect of Ministerial amendment No. 122. Yesterday afternoon I dealt with the effect of that amendment as well as with the effect of amendment No. 112.

I would remind the Deputy that repetition is not in order. However, I do not intend to prevent the Deputy speaking.

I had no intention of speaking on this until Deputy Burke intervened with his question.

Deputy Burke did not bring it into order.

If there is any Deputy in the House who is under the delusion that Ministerial amendment No. 122 will go any distance towards meeting the objections that have been made to this sub-section, then I think it is proper that the matter should be restated shortly, subject to the approval of the Chair. It is not my intention again to go over the ground that I covered yesterday afternoon. As regards amendment No. 112, the word "precaution" is proposed to be inserted instead of the word "anything". That insertion will make no difference whatever. Amendment No. 122, if accepted, provides that no medical or surgical treatment shall be given without the consent of the patient. Surgical and medical operations taken by a surgeon or medical man, called precautions and not treatment, are unaffected, and will be unaffected, if amendment No. 122 is inserted. The case was put yesterday that if, in fact, a person has any one of the various classes of typhoid fever, and it is believed and recognised that the germs of that disease may focus themselves either in the gall bladder or in the kidney, and thereby render that patient a carrier, it will be open to a registered practitioner under sub-section (2) of this section to operate on that person's gall bladder as a precaution against his becoming a carrier, and that would not be medical or surgical treatment within the meaning of amendment No. 122.

The Parliamentary Secretary yesterday showed a glimmer of understanding of the difficulty in which the House is placed in discussing this measure, particularly in the light of the small amount of information which has been vouchsafed by him.

He says he has to ask for powers which look outrageous in order to protect the public interest, and "outrageous" is a word which fairly adequately describes the terms of this section and particularly of this sub-section as well as of other sections of the Bill. When the matter is discussed very seriously and very effectively—because I think that the discussion last evening was effective in pointing out how extraordinarily wide are the powers taken in the sub-section and how unique these powers are in the history of public health treatment —we expected that we would have some indication on the part of the Parliamentary Secretary that he appreciated the difficulty which the House has in discussing the giving of outrageous proposals without any adequate explanation. The Parliamentary Secretary last night merely said stubbornly that the rights of the community were prior to the rights of the individual and he would go no further than that. He said he wanted complete and absolute control of individuals who, by reason of their infectious state, were a danger to the community.

I quoted also the 1929 regulations which the Deputy made.

The Parliamentary Secretary can quote them again because I do not think he made any great impression on us.

I see that.

The Parliamentary Secretary is ringing the changes on so many different things which have absolutely nothing to do with the discussion. We have faithfully referred to any of the information available to us in the Library, but the Parliamentary Secretary has not seen to it that a copy of the regulations is made available to us.

I am very sorry; I did not know the Deputy had not got a copy.

I should be very glad if the Parliamentary Secretary would let us have a copy of those regulations. In the meantime, there are a number of points to which we must get some kind of answer. First, why is a patient who is isolated in this way to be prevented completely and absolutely from having any access to his own private medical adviser, or any nursing staff he may like to have? Secondly, the Parliamentary Secretary has provided us with the names of various diseases which are to be dealt with under this section and the last year for which we have any information as to the incidence of these diseases is 1944. In that year, there were nine cases of typhus.

I put it to the Deputy that he gave us all these figures before.

No, Sir; I did not. I went to a certain amount of trouble half-an-hour ago to get them.

I gave the Deputy the gross total on Second Reading and offered to give him the details.

I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to listen to me. The figures will be found on page 129 of the Annual Report of the Registrar-General in 1944. There were nine cases of typhus in that year; 453 cases of typhoid; one case of paratyphoid A and 103 cases of paratyphoid B; no case of smallpox; 1,538 cases of scarlet fever; 5,086 cases of diphtheria; 43 cases of acute anterior poliomyelitis; ten cases of encephalitis lethargica; 138 cases of cerebro-spinal fever; 72 cases of trachoma and 509 cases of erysipelas. I do not know whether anthrax is a notifiable disease or not —I expect it is—but there was no case of anthrax. With regard to tuberculosis, psittacosis, syphilis and gonorrhoea, we have no information about these cases. They are, perhaps, not notifiable diseases, but we have no information about them. Will the Parliamentary Secretary say, in respect of the year in which these cases occurred, whether he had any difficulty in seeing that the public health was secured by getting the persons who were afflicted with these diseases voluntarily to take the treatment available?

If they take it voluntarily, we will not have to operate this section.

The Parliamentary Secretary is looking for outrageous powers over the individual——

Which the Deputy had, too.

——and he is looking for these powers in a positive statute. I want to know, before we enshrine these powers in a positive Act of this House, with all their implications with regard to the liberty of the person, the most sensitive liberty of the person, whether in 1944 or 1945, he had any difficulty in getting persons afflicted with these diseases so treated and so isolated as to make secure the public health. I suggest that before the powers which the Parliamentary Secretary is asking for are demanded in the peremptory way in which he is demanding them—simply saying when we asked him after some hours discussion last night whether he had reconsidered the matter or changed his mind in any way: "No, not a bit", and not even offering a word of explanation in respect of some of the difficulties under which we obviously labour—we should have that information. We are entitled to ask at this stage what difficulties of any kind he had in dealing with these diseases last year, the year before or in any past period, that warrant him in asking, by way of positive Act of this Oireachtas, the extraordinary powers he is seeking not only to detain and isolate individuals, as is provided for in sub-section (1) but to take over complete control of them from the point of view of treatment and attendance by a State machinery in the way in which he proposes in sub-section (2).

Before the Parliamentary Secretary definitely puts his foot down in connection with this sub-section, there is one small change which he might accept and which I think would considerably improve the sub-section from the point of view of protecting the rights of the individual patient. It is stated here in paragraph (h) that

"the registered medical practitioner having charge of the patient in such hospital or other place may cause anything to be done in relation to the patient which in his opinion is necessary or expedient to prevent the spread of infection...."

If that were changed to read that he "may cause anything to be done which is necessary to prevent the spread of infection", I think it would improve it considerably. As long as the words "in his opinion" are embodied in this paragraph, it enables the medical officer to defend in court any action he may take. He is not open to any question in court as long as he is able to assert that the action in question was in his opinion necessary. If the position were that he would have to prove in court that the action was actually necessary in the opinion of the court, then he would be up against a more serious proposition and the interests of the patient would be much safer. That is a rather small amendment to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to accept and I think he should be prepared to consider it.

Before this matter is finally decided, I would like to appeal again to the Parliamentary Secretary to write into the section the good intentions which he has expressed. I cannot see how that would in any way restrict his powers, if he holds he does not intend to use them in a particular direction. There is no doubt that under paragraph (h) the practitioner may do anything he thinks necessary or expedient—and, furthermore, the three specific things. On the face of the paragraph, and taking it in relation to the proposed amendment No. 122, it is clear that he may do anything, including those things. Those things are an enlargement or an extension, so he has unlimited powers. The Parliamentary Secretary argues that amendment No. 122 prevents the medical practitioner from performing a major operation, and in principle he agrees that an operation should not be performed without the consent of the appropriate person. If he is prepared to go that far, why not write that into this section?

I have assured Deputy McGilligan that I propose to circulate an amendment to clarify that if there is any doubt about it.

I was not present then. I take it that the Parliamentary Secretary agrees that an operation shall not be carried out without the consent of the person?

I stated that specifically last night, on more than one occasion.

That being so, the difference between us is that compulsory powers would only be used for immunisation.

And the taking of specimens for the purpose of a diagnosis.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary satisfied that the risks in any immunisation process are so infinitesimal that they can with equanimity be forcibly performed on any person? After all, we had serious alarm some years ago as a result of defects in inoculation and we had High Court actions arising from certain cases. I mentioned the matter before and I think that, as he is prepared to go so far in principle, there seems to be no difference in principle from his point of view in accepting what Deputy Morrissey and other speakers have been impressing upon him—that this also should not be perpetrated upon the patient without the consent of the appropriate person.

In addition to there being some risk, there is also the question of conscience and the moral right of the individual—of the parent or the patient, as the case may be—to object and refuse to have such treatment performed. I would ask him again to reconsider this matter before the Report Stage, to see if some compromise could not be arranged to meet the viewpoints put forward from these benches.

I again ask if the Parliamentary Secretary would be good enough to let me have a copy of the Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations, 1929? I understand that those regulations contain powers that would enable persons to be treated by medical officers in the way it is suggested they would be treated under sub-section (2). Would he quote any part of the regulations he has been good enough to give me?

Is not a medical officer of health, under those regulations, authorised to take any steps that to him may seem necessary or desirable for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease?

Would the Parliamentary Secretary say where that is?

In paragraph (10), page 5

Paragraph (10) says:—

"Upon the receipt of a notification under these regulations, or on becoming aware in any other way of a case or suspected case of acute primary pneumonia, or acute influenzal pneumonia, or malaria or dysentery, in his district, the medical officer of health, or an officer of the sanitary authority acting under the instructions of the medical officer of health, shall make such inquiries and take such steps as are necessary or desirable for investigating the source of infection, for preventing the spread of infection, and for removing conditions favourable to infection, and if no medical practitioner is in attendance on the patient, the medical officer of health shall also take such steps as are necessary or desirable for ascertaining the nature of the case."

Does the Parliamentary Secretary suggest that the words in the middle of that sentence enable the medical officer to take a person into a hospital and immunise him and take blood tests and carry out an operation?


Having based his authority upon these regulations since 1929, would the Parliamentary Secretary say if any such action was taken in any such case?

We had to have an Emergency Powers Order to do that.

Why? You had these regulations in 1929?

Because of the fact that the operation of those regulations and the statutory restrictions upon us were too sluggish to deal with an outbreak of typhus.

If that is true of those regulations, once you get your medical officers of health they ought to be able to act like greased lightning. Again the Parliamentary Secretary is humbugging us and he is degrading this House.

Even the Ceann Comhairle protests against this.

I am prepared to accept rulings from the Ceann Comhairle, but I would not care to see him getting into the debate.

The Ceann Comhairle has no desire whatever to get into the debate.

I wish the Parliamentary Secretary would confine his remarks and reflections to those of us who are taking part in this debate and leave the Chair to look after its own responsibilities. If we are going to continue like this and, instead of getting facts with regard to the public health situation here and information regarding the experience of the Minister in dealing with it, if we are going to get the type of cobwebby argument that the Parliamentary Secretary is trying to proceed with, travelling from the cobwebs of 1878 to the obscurities of 1929, then I can appreciate the difficulty the Taoiseach was in yesterday in the Seanad, when he discussed the difficulties of the Government in relation to Parliamentary Secretaries.

There were no cobwebs on the arguments put up to you last night on this issue.

I had no arguments put to me last night.

Then you were not here?

I was here for the whole of the discussion yesterday and I merely heard a stubborn declaration from the Parliamentary Secretary that the rights of the community were prior to the rights of the individual and that he had to have complete and absolute control over individuals. I want to reiterate my question.

At the cost of repetition?

What can you do against the utter silence of the Parliamentary Secretary and the members of his Party? If we are to maintain our self-respect, if we are to try to do our best here, we cannot be content with asking a question once, a question that concerns the vital liberties of the people, and then sit down because this House of discussion has no echo from the Parliamentary Secretary or any Deputies on the Government Benches? I asked the Parliamentary Secretary whether he ever had powers to do the things that he proposes here and why, when he is taking these powers, he takes them in such a way as to prevent a person, who is detained and isolated, from having his own medical adviser.

I desire to make one point before this matter is determined. The Parliamentary Secretary wishes the House to believe that sub-section (2) of Section 29 contains provisions similar to those in the regulations that he referred to last night and to-day— The Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations, 1929. In particular, he referred to Section 10, in answer to Deputy Mulcahy. Deputy Mulcahy read out that section. I will not read it out, but I will refer to one sentence:—

"the medical officer of health shall also take such steps as are necessary or desirable."

Under the sub-section such steps, or precautions, if the Ministerial amendment is accepted, are to be taken which are, in the opinion of the medical officer of health, desirable. Do Deputies see any distinction in that? Necessary or desirable could be decided in court. The opinion of the registered medical practitioner is conclusive under these provisions. There is a fundamental difference between the two provisions and there is no relation between the powers.

Whose opinion would you have, then?

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted, down to the word ‘Minister', in line 29, stand".
The Committee divided:—Tá: 55; Níl: 20.

  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Brennan, Thomas.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick (County Dublin).
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Carter, Thomas.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Crowley, Honor Mary.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • De Valera, Vivion.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Furlong, Walter.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, James.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • McCann, John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Connor, John S.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Skinner, Leo B.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Ua Donnchadha, Dómhnall.
  • Walsh, Laurence.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.


  • Anthony, Richard S.
  • Beirne, John.
  • Bennett, George C.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Commons, Bernard.
  • Coogan, Eamonn.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Kissane and Kennedy; Níl: Deputies Bennett and McMenamin.
Question declared carried.

I move amendment No. 89:—

In sub-section (2) (a), line 29, to add after the word "Minister" the words "and to the person in charge of the patient".

As the sub-section stands, it provides that the medical officer who makes an order detaining or isolating a person shall forthwith send a copy of the order to the Minister. A later provision provides that either a copy of the order or some verbal information would be given to the person himself. I want to provide that a written copy of the order will be given to the person or, in the case of a minor, to the person in charge.

The purpose of sub-section (2), as appears to be clear on the face of it, is to inform the Minister. The Minister will keep a register of those detention orders. It will be necessary that he should keep such a register, in order that the plan of supervision which I described in some detail last night, may be carried out, and that periodical inspections will take place by a medical inspector from the Department, if the patient is detained for a period of six months or more. Provision is made in (2) (c) for giving a copy of the order to the patient or to the appropriate person. The paragraph states that the officer detaining the patient shall

"(ii) give to the appropriate person—

(I) either the order itself or verbal information as to the terms of the order, and

(II) verbal information as to the right of appeal under paragraph (k) of this sub-section.

(d) if the order has not been given as aforesaid on or before the detention, it shall be so given as soon as possible thereafter."

I think (c) and (d) make ample provision for serving the order on the person detained.

There is no obligation there to serve the order.

Paragraph (c) states that the officer detaining the patient shall, on or before doing so, give to the appropriate person either the order itself or verbal information, and under (f) if the order has not been given it shall be given as soon as possible thereafter.

The patient need not necessarily be given a copy of the order, but may be told verbally.

If the copy of the order is not given as aforesaid on or before detention it shall be given as soon as possible thereafter.

I submit that if the Minister is entitled forthwith to get a copy of the order, the person who is affected is entitled to get a copy of the order at once into his hands and I take it it is not sufficient to be told verbally or to be shown an order. The person is going to have his liberty and his rights taken away in respect to this particular section and I think the least that might be done is that those who are going through all the process of examining what the danger to the public health is, because of the circumstances, would go to the trouble of writing out a copy of the order and handing it to the person who is being then detained.

May I suggest to the Deputy that it is not a question of the trouble of writing out a copy of the order and handing it to the person. That is not the point at issue at all. If that were the only point at issue, I would fully agree with the Deputy that there would be no justification whatever for not handing a copy of the order to the person detained. The chief medical officer makes the detention order. The chief medical officer is not necessarily the person who detains. The chief medical officer having made his detention order, an officer of the local authority may be the appropriate person who has been appointed, with the approval of the Minister, as a person who may execute such an order. If the patient, let us say, lives in the other end of the county and if there is a degree of urgency about his removal, it may not be possible actually to serve a copy of the order on him before he is detained. That is the difficulty, and that is the only difficulty.

Does that mean that the county medical officer of health is going to send a 'phone message to some other officer in the district authorising him to detain such person?

That is, following the making of the order.

Following the making of the order, he is going to 'phone?

That is it.

Is there any reason why he could not 'phone the terms of the order and why the person getting these powers would not write them down and serve them as a certified copy on the person whom he was detaining?

I think there would be. I think an order conveyed over the 'phone could not be certified as an exact copy of the order. I think a verbal intimation of the terms of the order is all that can be conveyed in that quick way but no time will be lost whatever in serving a copy of the order as soon as it is physically possible to do it.

What does the Parliamentary Secretary then mean by paragraph (c), if there is this difficulty of transmission of the order, because it says, "the officer detaining the patient shall on or before doing so"—that is, on or before detaining him—"produce for inspection by the appropriate person his written authorisation from such medical officer if he is not such medical officer"?

But he will be an authorised person for the purpose of the Act.

So that the authorisation that he will produce is simply an authorisation that he is a competent person?

An authorisation, yes.

But he will not produce any authority for detaining the particular person. He will simply tell him, "I got a telephone message to-day that I can do this".

He will be authorised as an officer who is entitled to detain under the Act. He will give verbal intimation of the terms of the order and, as soon as it can possibly be done, a copy of the order will be served.

But if he can give him verbal information as to the terms of the order, why cannot he give them in writing?

Because he could get verbal information of the terms of the order over the 'phone and he could not get an exact copy.

I think this has some bearing on the question whether or not the proposals set out here for appeal to the Minister are going to be workable or effective at all. I have my doubts very much about that but I do not want to go into that at the moment, except to this extent, that there is a great difference to a detained person or the appropriate person in getting from a medical man a written order as against a verbal order. If a medical man gives the ordinary person merely verbal information in technical language, he might as well not give him the message at all. If that person wants to make an immediate appeal to the Minister, the person is entitled to know what he is appealing against and if the appeal is to have any effect, particularly if there is a question of anything in the nature of an operation pending in respect of that person, it may be absolutely essential that that person should know and be able to transmit that to the Minister with all speed.

Operations again!

Does the Parliamentary Secretary deny that it is here?

Give it up some time.

Give what up?

That kind of argument. Have not I assured the House time and time again that if it is not made clear in the Ministerial amendments that I have put down, it will be made absolutely clear?

Very good. I accept that. So far so good. To that extent it is a very substantial improvement on the section as it stands at the moment, but I want to put this to the Parliamentary Secretary, and the Parliamentary Secretary knows this better than any ordinary layman, if a doctor tells a very ordinary person in any part of the country or city in medical language or technical terms what is wrong with him, one person perhaps out of twenty will understand what the doctor means. If it is written down, if he does not understand it himself, he can ascertain it very quickly.

Does the Deputy appreciate that before an order is made either the medical officer himself, who is making the order, will have seen the patient or, by reason of an amendment which I have already accepted, some other medical officer will have asked the chief medical officer to make the order. So far, so good. Bear in mind that the type of case we are dealing with here is a patient who is a probable source of infection with an infectious disease who declines to be isolated or declines to go to an institution and who has to be forcibly detained, unless he changes his mind. To come back to the really difficult situation out of which the Emergency Powers Order originated, where typhus broke out in a community of itinerants. To-day they were within the jurisdiction of one local authority; to-morrow they were within the jurisdiction of another local authority. That is the exceptional type and it is the exceptional case that we are trying to deal with it here because it is only in exceptional circumstances that this thing will have to operate at all and, in my deliberate opinion, it will rarely operate. I can be told in reply to that, "once you are given the powers, well, it may operate." There is not any answer to that. That type of argument is beyond reason.

But picturing again a similar set of circumstances where typhus or typhoid or any other dangerous infectious disease breaks out amongst a band of itinerants, does anybody think that if we give these people timely warning and tell them that they are going to be detained, if we give them 24 or 48 hours of a period which might elapse during which we would be serving a copy of the order in writing, that they will wait? I think they will be making over the border into the jurisdiction of the next local authority. These are the difficulties that we are trying to provide against. This section is being debated as if it was going to be uniformly applied to everybody who contracted an infectious disease. I do not deny that it could be, and, if anybody says it could be, there is no use arguing with him because undoubtedly it could. But it is as clear as noonday that unless you take statutory powers to cope with exceptionally difficult circumstances you cannot cope with the exceptionally difficult circumstances when they present themselves.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that the chief medical officer may authorise the local medical officer to detain a person. The question of which area of jurisdiction the person is in does not alter that. The sub-section itself puts the obligation on the medical officer of sending forthwith a copy of the order to the Minister. Why cannot a copy of the order be served on the person at the same time either by the chief medical officer or, if you like, by the authorised medical officer.

Does the Deputy not see that, while he might send it forthwith to the Minister, who would probably get it in a day or two, or in the shortest possible time, if he sends it forthwith by the same procedure to the person's home address it is to be hoped the person will not be there when the order arrives?

The section says:—

"Where an order is made under this section in relation to a person, the following provisions shall have effect."

These cannot flow until the order has been made.

Yes, but the person has not yet been detained.

Because the order has to be made first.

That is what I am saying. This is when the order has been made. We are asking that, at the same time that the order is made, a copy of the order should be served on the person. Surely it is as easy to make two copies of an order as one.

That is not the difficulty.

I must be particularly dense, because I cannot see the difficulty.

The Parliamentary Secretary is wrong in thinking that there is any suggestion of delay that will give a warning to a person that he is going to be presented with this order before the order is actually presented. As I understand it, the Parliamentary Secretary visualises a position in which, say, the county medical officer for Cork, who may be in Cork, may have to get into telephonic communication with Bantry, where he has an authorised officer. He reads out the terms of the order, or he gives authority across the telephone to his man in Bantry to detain a particular person, and he cannot, say, within 24 hours, send down a written order. But there should be some provision by which an authorised officer would serve in writing an order of some kind, either a copy of what was taken down by him on the telephone, certified by him, or a provisional detention order which could be made by the authorised officer. I think the Parliamentary Secretary is only looking for trouble, as between the authorised officer and the person suffering from an infectious disease if the authorised officer is to be in a position to be more peremptory in interfering with the liberties of an individual whom he proposes to detain than the ordinary police officer. No Guard can come up to a person in the street and present his credentials and forthwith arrest that person. Except in very special circumstances, nobody can be arrested except on the presentation of a warrant.

He has to give verbal information as to the terms of the order if he does not serve the actual order.

If he is in a position to give verbal information, why can he not write it out and put some kind of document into the person's hands whose liberty is being taken away? The presentation of a document is an essential thing if a man is to be detained and his liberty taken away. I submit very strongly that the Parliamentary Secretary should make some kind of provision by which the appropriate person, if he is not the county medical officer himself, should present some kind of document to the person as an official notification of what is happening.

Yes, I will look into that. It might be possible to serve something like what the Deputy suggests in the way of a provisional order so long as we have not to give an exact copy of the original order.

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary see that if the medical officer considered it necessary only to give a verbal authorisation there might be a dispute afterwards as to the exact terms of the verbal order as between the patient and the medical officer?

I realise that. I think Deputy Mulcahy's suggestion of a provisional order may meet it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 89 and 90 not moved.

I do not intend to move amendment No. 91.

I thought the Parliamentary Secretary was going to make a substantial amendment which would radically improve the sub-section.

Personally I think the wording in the sub-section is the correct wording, but we will have another look at it before the Report Stage.

Amendment No. 91 not moved.
Amendments Nos. 92 and 93 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 94 to 98 go together and might be debated together with one decision on them. They propose to delete the same line.

I move amendment No. 94:—

In sub-section (2) (c) (ii), to delete all words after the word "person" lines 44 to 47, and substitute therefor the words "a written copy of the order itself and a written statement of information as to the right of appeal under paragraph (k) of this sub-section".

I suggest that just as it is desirable, where a person is so sick as not to be able to take in a verbal communication, to present a document indicating that an order has been issued for the person's detention and isolation, it is also desirable that intimation would be given with reference to paragraph (k) as to the person's right to appeal to the Minister and that that should be served on him in a documentary form.

I accept that. There is no difficulty about that, for the reason that the authorised officer can always have a supply on hands of copies of particulars of the right to appeal. I accept that in principle.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 95 to 98 cover the same ground. Amendment No. 99 seems to be dependent on them.

Paragraph (d) may require some modification when the Parliamentary Secretary has changed the previous one.

Amendments Nos. 95 to 99, inclusive, not moved.

I move amendment No. 100:—

In sub-section (2), to insert before paragraph (e) a new paragraph as follows:—

(e) after the patient is detained, such medical officer shall forthwith send a copy of the order to the county authority in whose functional area the patient has been detained.

It is necessary that the local authority in the area in which the person is detained should be informed so that the local authority will be responsible for his maintenance in future.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 101 and 102 not moved.

As regards amendment No. 103, I am not so sure that a form of words different from that in the Bill would not better express the idea. I shall have the matter re-examined.

Amendment No. 103 not moved.
Amendments Nos. 104 to 107 not moved.

I move amendment No. 108:—

In sub-section (2), to delete in page 17, lines 1 and 2, 4, 26, 34, and 38 and 39, the words "having control of" and substitute the words "in charge of".

This is one of a number of formal amendments referring to the person "in charge of" a hospital instead of "having control of" a hospital which is the phrase used in the Bill.

This is a series of amendments in the different parts of the section. However, the Chair is of opinion that acceptance of this amendment will not damnify any subsequent amendment.

The person having "control" of the hospital would, probably, be held in law to be the local authority. What is intended is the person actually in charge of the institution.

The Chair was worried regarding the proposal to change the wording in a number of provisions which are far apart. On occasion, that might damnify amendments by Deputies but, on this particular occasion, the Chair does not think that it will. The practice is one which the Chair does not like.

We shall only have to watch out in that regard.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 109 not moved.

I move amendment No. 110:—

To delete sub-section (2) (g).

The paragraph states:—

"where such medical officer gives any direction to the person having control of such hospital or other place as to the manner in which or the conditions under which the patient is to be detained, such person shall comply with the direction".

This provision seems to me to involve the possibility of a conflict between medical directions. Some authorised officer, who is simply responsible for the public health aspect of the matter outside, may give directions to a medical officer who is solely responsible for the conduct and management of a hospital. I do not think that the provision is necessary and, even in a case where it might be necessary, I do not think that it is desirable. When it is a question of treating the patient in hospital, the person responsible for the management of the hospital on the medical or surgical side should not have his authority interfered with from outside simply because an infectious case comes in.

It is not intended that the medical officer making the order should give any directions regarding treatment but it would be necessary that the medical officer should give directions to the person in charge of the hospital as to the manner in which, or the conditions under which, the patient is to be detained. That is somewhat different from the question of treatment. The medical officer in this case is the chief medical officer. At this stage, the medical officer of the institution has not taken charge. It is to the matron or head nurse that instructions would be given. Such instructions as to the manner of detention would be necessary, having regard to the particular type of infectious disease from which the person might be suffering, until the responsible medical officer of the institution would take over for the purpose of treatment. Once the medical officer of the institution takes over for the purpose of treatment, there will be no interference with his treatment from anybody outside.

If that is what the Parliamentary Secretary means, the paragraph seems very inadequate.

I thought that the use of the words,

"as to the manner in which or the conditions under which the patient is to be detained"

would suggest that treatment was not included. However, I shall have the matter looked into and see if the wording can be improved. I do not think that it can.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 111 not moved.

As regards amendment No. 112, perhaps Deputies would look at amendments Nos. 113, 114 and 115, which seem to go together. The Chair suggests that the point of those three amendments might be met by inserting before the word "precautions" in amendment No. 112 the words "of the following". If Deputies will look at paragraph (h), they will see that that would limit it to (i) (ii) and (iii).

I move amendment No. 112:—

In sub-section (2) (h), to delete in lines 9 to 11 the words "anything to be done in relation to the patient which in his opinion is" and substitute the words "any precautions to be taken in relation to the patient which in his opinion are" and to delete in line 19 the words "bacteriological or protozoological".

We have had a lot of discussion as to the wide scope of the terms of paragraph (h), as drafted. This amendment has been submitted to the House in the hope that it would meet any anxiety there might be in the minds of people inside or outside the House as to the purposes to which this paragraph might be applied. In fact, as I have said on a number of occasions already, it is not proposed to have any treatment carried out of a medical or operative nature without the consent of the patient, but it is necessary to take precautions against the spread of disease. The type of precaution that would be taken is set out in (i), (ii) and (iii) of paragraph (h). It is proposed that, in addition to these particularised precautions, the medical officer should be free to take any precautions that are necessary or expedient.

Perhaps I might at this stage indicate some of the possible precautions that might be necessary and that are not particularised under the headings (i), (ii) and (iii). I think it would be practically impossible to envisage all the minor matters that a medical officer in charge of an infectious disease institution might consider necessary or expedient for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease. To meet particular types of cases, precautions might have to be taken regarding discharges, excreta, sputum, etc. It is just not possible to inject into an Act of Parliament the precautions that a doctor might consider necessary or expedient for the sole purpose of preventing the spread of disease and for no other purpose. All that is subject to the very definite statement I have repeatedly made in this House that if the amendments before the House do not sufficiently clearly restrict the medical officer as to treatment either of a medical or surgical nature, that will be fully clarified on the Report Stage.

I have already spoken on this amendment several times, and I do not intend to repeat what I said. I again say that this alleged amendment is entirely illusory, and that it leaves the powers of the registered medical practitioner precisely in the same position as they were in the original draft of the Bill.

May I move my amendment No. 114?

Has amendment No. 112 been put?

No, it is not agreed.

We must dispose of it first.

But amendment No. 113 is an amendment to amendment No. 112.

I do not know what the Chair rules about amendments Nos. 113 and 114.

If amendment No. 112 is put and carried as it exists now the others will have to go.

You must put No. 112 first.

If I do that, the others cannot be moved.

I want to move amendment No. 113 on behalf of Deputy Hughes. Deputy Coogan is anxious to move his own amendment No. 114, which is an improvement on amendment No. 113. I suggest that amendments Nos. 113 and 114 should be taken together before amendment No. 112.

The position is that amendment No. 112 is objected to because we say that it is no better than the original draft. Then there is a suggestion that amendment No. 112 might be amended in such a way that paragraph (h) would read:—

"the registered medical practitioner having charge of the patients in such hospital or other place may cause any of the following precautions to be taken in relation to the patients which, in his opinion, are necessary or expedient to prevent the spread of infection from the patient,"

Then come paragraphs (i), (ii) and (iii), leaving out the words "including in particular" and restricting the precautions that should be taken to the precautions that are set out in paragraphs (i), (ii) and (iii).

I could not accept the restriction. I am quite prepared to give you the type of restriction you want, that is the major restriction referring to the possibility of surgical or medical treatment. I cannot restrict the medical officer to the precautions that are set out as being the only precautions he could take, because we cannot set out here all the precautions which it might be necessary for the medical officer to take. We can devise a form of phrasing here that will restrict him definitely in the matter of treatment or surgical operation.

Major de Valera

May I point out that amendment No. 122 covers the point in question here?

They are not quite concerned with the same point. It is a question of linking up, a matter of dovetailing.

At this stage, perhaps we had better withdraw amendments Nos. 113 and 114.

I take it that amendment No. 112 will be accepted on the understanding that I shall have a further redraft for the Report Stage.

Before that amendment is put, I think the Parliamentary Secretary on a previous section agreed to the removal of the words: "or expedient".

This is different.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary say that they are essential in this particular section?

They are essential in this section because this particular paragraph will be concerned with the precautions that will be taken to prevent the spread of disease. They will be comparatively minor matters, but you cannot place a statutory obligation on the responsible medical officer to satisfy himself that every possible precaution is in fact necessary. The medical officer in charge of a patient suffering from an infectious disease must take precautions that may not be absolutely necessary, but if he considers that they are expedient for the purpose of preventing the spread of the disease, he must be free to take them.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary be prepared to delete the words "in his opinion"?

No, not in this case.

Let it go and we will see it in the new draft.

My amendment need not necessarily be put.

Amendment No. 112, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120 and 121, not moved.

I move amendment No. 122:—

In sub-section (2), page 17, to insert before paragraph (j) a new paragraph as follows:—

(j) medical or surgical treatment shall not be given to the patient in such hospital or other place without the consent of the appropriate person.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 123:—

In sub-section (2), page 17, paragraph (j), to add at the end of the paragraph the words "subject to such medical officer having given at least two days' notice of the date and time of any such visit to the registered medical practitioner having charge of the patient in such hospital or other place,".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 124:—

In sub-section (2), page 17, to insert before paragraph (k) a new paragraph as follows:—

(k) such registered medical practitioner shall have the right to participate in any examination of the patient under paragraph (j) of this sub-section.

Are we to understand that the registered medical practitioner is the authorised medical practitioner as distinct from the medical officer?

The registered medical practitioner is the person in charge of the institution, and he will afford any necessary facilities to the chief medical officer who is responsible for the making of the detention order.

Under paragraph (k), if the chief medical officer examines a patient, has the hospital doctor the right to be present at the examination?

Yes. I think he must have notice.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 125 and 126 not moved.

I move amendment No. 127:—

In sub-section (2) (k), line 33, after the word "patient" to add the following words: "and the Minister shall communicate to such patient his decision upon such appeal within 72 hours from the receipt thereof by the Minister".

The point in this amendment was discussed, to some extent, on amendment No. 83. I understood from the Parliamentary Secretary that he was prepared to accept the principle of some limitation of time within which he would communicate the decision on the appeal to the patient. I think the period of 14 days was mentioned. I quite appreciate that three days would not be a sufficient period. If some maximum period were fixed, it would meet the point that I have in mind.

I have no objection to the principle in the amendment. It will be entirely a matter of fixing the maximum period within which the Minister can reasonably provide for the various confirmatory tests that might be necessary to establish a definite diagnosis. Whether that could be done in 14 days or 21 days I am not able to say without further examination, but I am prepared to put some time limit into the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 128:—

In sub-section (2), paragraph (1), to add at the end, in line 36, the words "including the provision of copies of reports and records".

I think that if a patient is appealing to the Minister against his detention that part of the facilities afforded to him in doing so should be to make available to him such reports and records as are in the hospital in regard to his case. He should be able to get them, if he requires them, to document his appeal to the Minister for his release.

I agree that a person detained should get the fullest facilities in the presentation of his appeal to the Minister. Hence I am prepared to accept the principle of the amendment. The wording of it may have to be altered because I think we would have to confine it to such documents as would be in the custody of such person.

If the Parliamentary Secretary is prepared to accept the principle of the amendment I am prepared to withdraw it.

Yes. I shall circulate an amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 129:—

In sub-section (2), page 17, to insert before paragraph (n) a new paragraph as follows:—

(n) if the patient is detained for more than six months, the Minister shall cause one of his medical officers to examine the patient and report the result of such examination,.

I explained the purpose of this amendment to the House yesterday. The amendment provides that if a person is detained for more than six months the Minister shall cause one of his medical officers to examine the patient and report the result of such examination to him, regardless of whether a patient is taking an appeal or not. I rather think that we should have some check-up as to the circumstances and conditions under which a patient is being detained. The Minister ought to be satisfied, on the periodical reports of his medical inspectors, as to the conditions under which people are detained. Notwithstanding the fact that no appeal has been taken, he ought to satisfy himself that there is an undoubted necessity for the continued detention of the patient.

This amendment would be still more acceptable to me if the Parliamentary Secretary would agree to reduce the period. Personally, I would prefer a period of three months, having regard to the type of case with which we are dealing, the case of a person who may be detained and isolated against his will. The Parliamentary Secretary has said that he does not envisage a great number of these cases, and it would not be a great hardship, and certainly would not entail very much cost, if it were provided that a person could not be kept more than three months in detention and isolation without the independent examination which the Parliamentary Secretary suggests in his amendment.

I will consider it. It is probably fairly safe to assume that there will not be a very big number of cases of this type. If there were, it would raise some administrative difficulties, if we had to inspect them every three months. It might occupy a considerable portion of the medical inspector's time, but it is probably safe enough to assume that the cases will be rare and would not impose very much on the time of the inspector. It is really only a precautionary measure —it may not in fact be necessary— but I felt it was well to have some independent check on how these people were being looked after and as to the need for their detention. I will look into it and see if I could safely reduce the period, but, in drafting the amendment, I thought six months a reasonable period.

I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary should make the period three months, if it can be done at all. It would be much more reasonable.

I will look into it.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 130:—

To delete sub-section (2) (n).

This sub-section says that force may, if necessary, be used for the purpose of carrying out any of the provisions of the sub-section. To use the Parliamentary Secretary's own words, the sub-section is outrageous enough without bringing that in at the tail-end.

The point is that, without this little piece at the tail-end, the sub-section is absolutely useless. We are dealing with persons who have to be detained; we are dealing with patients who refuse co-operation, who decline to be isolated or to afford the necessary degree of protection to the community or to their families by undergoing isolation. When a detention order is made, how is that order to be put into operation if force cannot be used? Force must be used if the section is to be made effective, or at least there must be power to use force.

For what purpose?

For the purpose, for example, of removing a patient.

That would be one purpose. Another would be the detaining of a patient.

If you only envisage the best of good citizens as being affected by this section, you do not get the type of setting that may constitute the difficulty, or that will constitute any difficulty that may arise. We sometimes run across people who have to be detained for one cause or another and who are very recalcitrant and difficult. If we are not allowed to use force, once the principle of detention is accepted at all, we might as well surrender the powers of compulsory detention altogether, because we could not make them effective. Again, the fact that you have a statutory right to use force will, in itself, go a long way towards removing the need for the use of force, but I cannot see that the section could be made to operate at all, if we had not the right to use such force as may be necessary for the proper operation of the section.

This sub-section scarcely deals with detention at all. Sub-section (1) provides for detention. The sub-section referred to in paragraph (n) deals with all the things which can be done to a patient when he has been detained and isolated, and it implies that not only is force to be used to secure the detention of the person but force is to be used to deal with any aspect of his treatment which may be permitted under the sub-section.

Suppose the case is one of typhus fever. The patient may have to be disinfested. If the patient resists and refuses any co-operation, it is conceivable that we shall have to take forcible steps not only for the protection of the patient but for the protection of the nurses and everybody else in the institution, because if a patient is infested with lice, he would be a positive danger to anybody associating with him, if we had not first got rid of the lice which are the vectors of the typhus. I merely use that as an illustration of the type of difficulty we have to deal with. I am not sure that the Deputy appreciates it.

We have got now as far as detention and cleansing the person of lice, but the Parliamentary Secretary is taking powers to take all these other precautions, including medical examination of the patient and the taking of specimens of his blood or other specimens. Is it proposed that force may be used to take specimens of his blood, or to take other specimens unspecified here, from him?

The other specimens envisaged would not ordinarily have to be taken by force, because, in the ordinary course, other specimens, such as excreta, would deliver themselves; but it might be necessary to use force for the purpose of taking a blood sample. Is it argued that if the diagnosis has not been established, if the case is brought in as a probable source of infection and believed to be a case of typhus, a case of typhoid, or a case of venereal disease, it would be wrong to use such force as might be necessary to take a sample of the blood for the purpose of definitely establishing whether the patient was suffering from these diseases or not? There is more at stake than the liberty of the subject in this particular regard because a firm diagnosis is very necessary in order that the necessary steps for the protection of the community, the necessary preventive measures may be taken in the place from which the patient came. These measures are not standard. Different steps require to be taken regarding different diseases. It is repugnant to most medical men to have to use any type of force in their relations with their patients. It is something which a medical man hates to do and there is no medical man who will be bursting with enthusiasm for having to take any specimen, blood or otherwise, forcibly from a patient. There are circumstances in which it might be essential to give him statutory power to do so and I think we would be making a mistake if we did not arm him with that power. The fact that he has the power will probably operate in itself to ensure that the use of the power would not be necessary.

I have an amendment down, amendment No. 131, which seeks the deletion of the words "force may, if necessary," be used and the substitution of the words "no more force than is necessary may" be used. As paragraph (n) is framed at the moment, any degree of force may be used to restrain a recalcitrant patient. If force is to be used, I suggest that it should be restricted to that amount and degree which would be necessary to overcome the resistance of the patient. Members of the Gárda Síochána and lay persons under the sanitary authority may be enforcing these provisions and it should be laid down clearly that they cannot use any more force than the circumstances of the case demand, that excessive force is ruled out.

I suggest to the Deputy that excessive force is already ruled out by law. I speak on this matter subject to correction, as it is purely a matter of law, but it seems to me that if excessive force is used it would amount to assault. Setting out here that force may be used if necessary does not authorise anybody to use force in excess of what is necessary.

There is no qualification whatever of force in this sub-section. Like the Parliamentary Secretary, I am speaking with the limitation of being a layman.

It does not mean unlimited force.

Why not say so? Why not say what Deputy Coogan has said?

It must mean unlimited, so far as no limit is placed upon it. The amount of force used may depend on the persons applying the force as much as on the degree of resistance by the patient.

Would not the patient have a case for assault if more force were used than was necessary?

Neither the Parliamentary Secretary nor myself can decide that. I put it to him again that all we say here is "force". There is no limitation whatever on the amount of force which may be used or how it may be used and, if it is used even to the extent of injuring the patient, I doubt very much if the patient has any remedy under the working of this sub-section as it stands. The fact is that this bears out what was evident from the beginning, that once we start on the slippery slope we go on to the logical conclusion.

Surely the Parliamentary Secretary appreciates the principle involved here, that if a person is assaulted, in resisting the assault he may use sufficient force but may not bludgeon his opponent into absolute unconsciousness. The same principle is here, only that degree of force may be exercised which is necessary to overcome the resistance of the patient. I cannot see why the Parliamentary Secretary jibs at this suggestion, since as the paragraph is framed any degree of force may be used.

I would like to know what the existing law is. If such a provision is not in the law as it stands at the present time, what is the necessity for this? What has been the experience of medical officers and to what extent have they failed to secure the co-operation of patients? We should get some information regarding the problem. Surely to write into a statute a paragraph like this is most objectionable, unless there is very grave necessity for it. We are entitled to get some picture of the situation. I fail to understand why it is necessary, as most medical officers get almost 100 per cent. co-operation.

I painted the picture, but I am afraid the Deputy did not see it.

Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would help us further and quote from the Acts of 1878 or 1907, or the regulations of 1929, the corresponding sub-section?

The Deputy knows enough about these Acts by this time.

The Parliamentary Secretary cannot quote it, because it is not there.

I could not but have those Acts stamped on my mind, as the Parliamentary Secretary is falling back on them so often in his attempt to defend the sections here.

If the Deputy had a few stamped on his mind before he started on this Bill, he would be better off.

If I had, probably I would not have had to wait so long to show the Parliamentary Secretary the error of his ways in quoting those Acts and in suggesting that they were similar to the sections in this Bill. However, he has called on those various Acts and regulations so often to show he is not doing anything in this Bill but what was in any one or all of those regulations, it would be helpful if he would now quote from any of those enactments the sub-section corresponding to the one under discussion.

We are getting on so well I would not like to embarrass the Deputy.

Is the amendment being withdrawn?

If a decision is required on the following amendment, No. 131, it will have to be saved.

Surely the amendment can be put in such a form as to save No. 131?

Question—"That the letter in brackets ‘(n)' in line 41, proposed to be deleted, stand part of the subsection"—put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 131:—

In sub-section (2), (n), line 41, to delete the words "force may, if necessary", and substitute therefor the words "no more force than is necessary may".

As I have already indicated, the purpose of this amendment is to put some restraint on the persons whose duty it will be to restrain recalcitrant patients. As I have already pointed out, paragraph (n) states that force may, if necessary, be used, and my suggestion is that no more force than is necessary ought to be used in overcoming the resistance of a patient. I simply seek in my amendment to introduce the well-known legal principle that no more force than is necessary for the occasion may be used by the persons who are performing these very undesirable duties under this legislation.

Who will determine that?

The courts will determine it. If, for example, a patient is assaulted into unconsciousness in order to overcome his resistance, surely he will have a case for the courts, and the courts will then determine. The paragraph in the Bill says force may be used. Force can only mean one thing —any degree of force.

It is hardly an assault.

We are legalising assault here, and I want to limit the amount of assault you can perpetrate on the individual.

In refusing to accept this amendment you are refusing to give the same safeguard to a patient that you already give to a violent criminal. So far as I know the law—I speak with a limited knowledge of the law—even in the arrest of a criminal, if he violently resists, only such force as is necessary may be used. We are not prepared to limit the force in dealing with the patient. Why?

As far as I interpret force here, it would be a moral control.

I am afraid no court will interpret it in that way.

Even the Parliamentary Secretary does not interpret it in that way.

Let us take the case of some person suffering from disease. If that patient refuses to go away, it may be necessary to take him away, to encourage the patient, if you like. You will use moral control on that patient, and try to get him removed to a hospital, a sanatorium, or some other institution. You would not call that physical force; you would call it moral force.

You would not call that force.

That is the position as far as I see it. There is nothing here that any of us need be afraid of.

The Deputy is very innocent.

The word in the amendment is force, not inducement. If the Parliamentary Secretary is satisfied with what Deputy Burke has now said, we will be all quite happy.

It might be too restricted.

If the Deputy can induce the Parliamentary Secretary to limit the sub-section in the way he suggests, I would be quite happy.

Deputy Burke is too soft.

That is the trouble. I do not know how he found himself behind you at all.

Perhaps that comes under the heading of moral suasion?

I rise to support this amendment. Like other Deputies on this side of the House, I dislike the use of force in this connection. I do not think force should be used or, in fact, that it is necessary. I think medical people have got on pretty well in the past without using force. Unfortunately, I did not hear the Parliamentary Secretary's explanation.

That is the trouble.

I do not suppose that the medical people who deal with patients have, so to speak, lost their touch and now find that in dealing with patients they need more force than they did in the past. Once the word "force" is used in this section, I think it is unreasonable not to accept the amendment and so limit the powers of the various medical people who will be concerned in these matters.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary say why he considers the words in Deputy Coogan's amendment would not cover any possible contingency that may arise?

This is purely a matter of law; there is no other principle involved. I do not have to assure the House that I have no desire to arm the authorities in a hospital or place of detention with powers to use force in excess of the degree of force that might be necessary. That being the position, it becomes a question in law as to how this particular paragraph ought to be phrased. I am advised by my legal advisers that the form of wording set out here is the correct form—"force may, if necessary, be used for the purpose of carrying out any provision of this sub-section". I am advised that that merely gives the right to use force, but that it does not give the right to use force in excess of what is necessary, and that the amendment which Deputy Coogan suggests is unnecessary. My legal advisers object to put unnecessary words into the statute.

Nobody wants to use any more force than is necessary. It is difficult to anticipate the degree of force that may be necessary in any particular case, but the degree of force will be related to the degree of resistance, and the degree of resistance, when the person is serious in his resistance, will be related to the person's capacity to resist, and a lot of force might be necessary in certain circumstances.

I think we may leave it at that. I have talked so much on this matter that I do not feel disposed to say anything more. Once again the difficulty presents itself that I cannot hold my audience. Some of my audience stick to me through thick and thin; others get tired of me, go out for a while to get a breath of fresh air, and come back to hear me again. In the meantime, I have said a terrible lot but I would need to keep repeating myself. I am not rubbing it into anybody. No person can be expected to stay here in this House from morning until night; nobody will do it and we must realise that. In a Bill like this it does constitute a difficulty, because one would require to be making the same argument a number of times during the day, and it gets somewhat wearisome.

That is the first time we got an explanation, if I can call it such, why this amendment should not be accepted. There was nothing in what the Parliamentary Secretary said which seemed to me to indicate that the amendment suggested by Deputy Coogan would not meet the position. The difference is that there is some limitation in the amendment, but there is no limitation in the sub-section. The amendment proposes that "no more force than is necessary may" be used. In other words, that any force that is called for by the degree of resistance of the patient may be used. I take it that why the Parliamentary Secretary is so adamant is that he has been advised by his legal advisers that the sub-section does not mean that unlimited force can be used. Even the best medical advisers can sometimes be wrong. To any ordinary person reading the sub-section it would seem that the amendment would give all the powers that are necessary. There ought to be some protection for the patient. Force might be used on a patient to such an extent that he might be injured. It is all right for the Parliamentary Secretary to talk about medical supervision, but force in connection with the sub-section may not be carried out by a medical officer. It might be carried out by people who have as little medical knowledge as I have.

It might, in fact, be carried out by the Guards as in Galway.

Or by anybody else. The question of using force does not consist merely in getting people into places where they are detained. When in these places force, as set out in the sub-section, might be used on the person of the patient. I ask Deputies to read the amendment and to say then whether anybody should ask for power to use more force than is considered necessary.

Deputy Morrissey is in difficulties even with the amendment, as he pointed out that it does not prevent force being used. Assuming that an action in the courts resulted, the amendment would leave an opening for a patient to proceed against a hospital. The phraseology that appears in this section appears in the Mental Treatment Act and, in some respects, in a measure dealing with untried prisoners, who might be detained, and upon whom force might be used to take their fingerprints. This power was not defined or restricted in any way in the other measures. The Parliamentary Secretary has pointed out that a person on whom force was used has rights. The degree of force that the Gárda Síochána might use was not defined, but if they assault a person the law is there to protect him. Force would probably be necessary to bring in Deputy Morrissey or myself. The Deputy is a strong man and more force might be needed than would be needed on a person like myself.

As strong as I am I would not be foolish enough to try force with the Guards.

The degree of force to be used cannot be defined. There is the ordinary safeguard that human beings will operate this section if it is found necessary to operate it at any time. That is the only safeguard against ill-treatment.

I am afraid Deputy Allen's intervention has rather let down the Parliamentary Secretary. He has certainly given away his case. The Deputy's point was that if the amendment were accepted it would make it easier for patients to go in to the courts. If the original drafting of the sub-section were accepted it would be harder for patients to go to the courts. While I do not know much about law, I believe that it would be very difficult for a patient to prove his case. He is first of all up against the difficulty of going to court, and it is also accepted that the medical authorities have the right to detain. If a patient wants to prove that excessive force was used, he will require very strong evidence to convince the court that he has a case. Anything that makes it easier for a patient to go to the courts is going to give him some little safeguard. Deputy Allen says that we must realise that human beings will have to exercise this force. We must not forget that it was human beings were exercising the force that was used at Belsen and at various other camps. It was human beings treated other human beings in the way that we heard of there. We should remember that it is human beings will be exercising this force, and we should provide sufficient safeguards.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divided:—Tá, 51; Níl, 21.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Brennan, Martin.
  • Brennan, Thomas.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick (County Dublin).
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Carter, Thomas.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Crowley, Honor Mary.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • De Valera, Vivion.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Furlong, Walter.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Kilroy, James.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • McCann, John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Connor, John S.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Ua Donnchadha, Dómhnall.
  • Walsh, Laurence.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.


  • Anthony, Richard S.
  • Bennett, George C.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Commons, Bernard.
  • Coogan, Eamonn.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Donnell, William F.
  • O'Reilly, Thomas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Kissane and Kennedy; Níl: Deputies Bennett and McMenamin.
Question declared carried.
Amendment No. 132 not moved.

I move amendment No. 133:—

In sub-section (3), paragraph (c), line 54, after the word "himself" to add the words "or the person in charge of the patient".

I think there may be circumstances, other than (a) or (b), where a person would have a person in charge of him. The alternative may be necessary. It might be a mental case.

I could not envisage what the Deputy probably had in mind in relation to this amendment. If it were a mental case—I presume it is a mental case—the mental case is already under control.

He might be a simpleton.

Yes, but if he were in any type of institution——

It might be a mental case before it was brought into an institution.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 134:—

To delete sub-section (4).

The effect of the section would be that for any resistance when being brought to the hospital or place of detention, or any act of insubordination to an officer of such place, or any act prejudicial to the discipline of the place, or any attempt to escape, or for failing to submit in a peaceful and orderly manner to the exercise of the powers conferred by the section a person is liable to a fine of £50, or three months' imprisonment, or both. I submit that that proposal is entirely unnecessary.

The experience of the Galway outbreak would indicate that the provisions are necessary and the experience in other institutions of a different type would also establish the necessity for such provisions. Deputies are aware that when the county medical officer in the Galway area tried to deal with an outbreak of typhus fever there, tried to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the disease by isolating contacts and by taking the necessary steps to disinfect habitations and so on, he found himself not only in considerable difficulty, but actually in physical danger. In some of our other institutions, notably in county homes, administration is sometimes made very difficult by reason of the recalcitrance of inmates. That is a different type of institution and I merely cite it for the information of the House to show the difficulties that officers in charge of an institution have in securing, say, personal cleanliness, in securing disinfestation, and, very often, in securing that the instructions and directions of the medical officer in charge of the institution are carried out. If and when we have to deal with the same type of person who is suffering from an infectious disease the position would be very much more serious. If he resists detention, if he refuses his co-operation, if he makes it almost impossible to run the institution, I think it is not unreasonable to say that he ought to be subject to a penalty. Similarly, if a person escapes from detention or tries to escape from detention, clearly the whole purpose of the detention order may be vitiated. The community will be in danger if he escapes from the institution and incurs the risk of spreading the particular infectious disease from which he is suffering among innocent people who are not aware of his condition. If he does not submit himself in a peaceful and orderly manner to the exercise of any power conferred by this section he shall be guilty of an offence. On the strength of our experience in Galway alone, I do think that we should have some power in our statutory law that would convey a salutary lesson to people who physically assault a medical officer of health who is trying to discharge his obligations to his local authority and to the community in protecting them from the spread of infectious disease. No doubt this can be argued against. The liberty of the subject, human rights and all that sort of thing can be recited. But, again, I may say that these powers are for the exceptional cases and will only have to be used in exceptional circumstances. But, if you have not got the powers, you cannot use them when you require them, and occasionally you will require them.

I think this reflects the whole disastrous spirit in which the Parliamentary Secretary is approaching this problem. There was one case in the history of the country in which there was difficulty in a disciplinary way in dealing with some people affected with infectious disease. Because of one case we get this sledge-hammer penal provision which proposes to cover not only people affected by infectious diseases, but people who are contacts, that is, who are a possible source of spreading infectious disease. If the Parliamentary Secretary wants strong penal measures for a particular class, he ought to define the class for which he wants them. But it is a sign of the breakdown of any sense of Government technique if, because of one row in Galway, powers which were never held before and powers of a most complete and drastic kind are introduced into legislation to cover every class of person who may have to be detained or isolated because of infectious disease. I think it is a breakdown of commonsense.

The Parliamentary Secretary gives one specific case where a medical officer was physically assaulted. This sub-section goes far beyond that. As I read it, if a person says no when he is expected to say yes he commits an offence. I am as much entitled to give that extreme case as the Parliamentary Secretary is entitled to give the other extreme case. The sub-section also says: "does any act of insubordination to an officer of such hospital or other place". What do you mean by insubordination? It also says: "does not submit himself in a peaceful and orderly manner to the exercise of any power conferred by this section". We must have some regard to the ordinary powers conferred by the section. We have to remember that we are not necessarily dealing with people who are suffering from infectious disease. We are also dealing with people who may be suspected of being a probable source of infection. I put it to the Parliamentary Secretary that it is a common thing for children and adults to be sent to a fever hospital because a doctor has reason to suspect that they may develop diphtheria. Very often, after being under observation for some time and after certain swabs have been taken, it is discovered that they have not and never had diphtheria. I am not blaming the medical profession for that, because I think the doctor was probably right, but I am reluctant that such persons should run the risk of these penalties being inflicted upon them. It is only as we go from one sub-section of this section to another sub-section that the House realises that we are being asked to give more and more powers. The only reason which has been advanced for the giving of these extraordinary powers is based on a case confined to one class of persons— the Galway case.

Question—"That the words proposed to be deleted as far as the word ‘or' in line 59 stand part of the Bill"—put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 135:—

To delete sub-section (4) (b).

Sub-section (4) (b) refers to the doing of an act of insubordination to an officer of a hospital or other place. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to accept this amendment. If he does, he will still have sufficient power in his hands. If the person concerned resists detention he can be proceeded against, if he does any act either of omission or commission of misbehaviour in hospital or if he escapes from detention or does not submit himself in a peaceful and orderly manner to the exercise of any power conferred by the section, he can also be proceeded against and can be subjected to a fine of £50 or three months' imprisonment or both. An act of insubordination might consist of saying "no" when he was expected to say "yes". The Parliamentary Secretary has sufficient means to catch his fish without this paragraph.

What constitutes an officer of a hospital? Does it include the nursing staff?

It would include the medical officer, the matron and the nursing staff. Offhand, I could not give the Deputy a complete list of the officers of an institution.

The sisters would, presumably, be officers. Some of the junior nurses might not, technically, be officers. I think that it is not wise to place in the hands of rather junior officers of a hospital the right to punish a patient for an act of insubordination. A man or woman suffering from infectious disease may become, during part of their illness, difficult to handle. You might have unfortunate instances arising from the condition of the patient. If you were dealing with a difficult member of the nursing staff, you might get a great deal of trouble which would not arise if paragraph (b) were omitted. I do not mean to cast any reflections on the nursing profession. They are a most devoted body, but even the most devoted bodies include persons who themselves are at times difficult. This provision places a power in the hands of junior officers which they had not heretofore and for which, I think, they have no great desire.

If the Opposition will agree to give me (a), (c), (d) and (e), I am prepared to meet them by deleting (b).

We cannot take them from you.

You could give them with a good grace.

I do not think that paragraphs (a), (b), (c) or (e) are necessary. The only paragraph required is (d) which relates to a person who escapes from detention. You will have achieved the objects of the Bill when you forcibly detain a person, forcibly isolate him and forcibly subject him to immunisation. Why pursue him when he ceases to be a patient and prosecute him? The Parliamentary Secretary should be content with making it an offence for him to escape.

I made a good offer.

It has just been pointed out to me that, even if the Parliamentary Secretary gives way on (b), he gets the same thing under (c) which relates to "any other act (whether of commission or omission)".

I shall amend paragraph (c) and make it read "any other act of misbehaviour". "Misbehaviour" has a definite meaning.

Would it mean spilling your cocoa?

Something more serious than that. The court would have to decide.

Amendment No. 135 agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 136 to 138 not moved.

I move amendment No. 139:—

To delete sub-section (5).

This amendment deals with the same thing.

It is not the same thing. Paragraph (a) of this sub-section is as follows:—

"(a) prevents or attempts to prevent the detention under this section of any person or the bringing under this section of any person to a hospital or other place for detention and isolation or (b) assists in the escape of any person from detention and isolation under this section or (c) obstructs or interferes with the exercise of any power conferred by this section."

It is not in the same category at all.

This is the sub-section under which I can see most breaches committed. I can conceive for instance a child being taken from its mother and I can see the mother, very naturally, resisting that. If she does——

If she does we shall be very understanding.

Mr. Morrissey

Remember you have nothing to do with it once this bad Bill becomes law. If she does, the court may—I do not say it will, but it may—inflict penalties up to £50 and three months' imprisonment.

We may not bring her into court.

Mr. Morrissey

That may not be entirely in the hands of the Parliamentary Secretary.

If the provision is harshly administered, he will have something to say to it.

I hope so. I think the Parliamentary Secretary will appreciate the point I am making. I visualise more breaches under this sub-section than under the previous one.

That type of case would not be brought into court. Anybody would understand the reluctance of a mother to part with her child but there is another type of difficulty where there is organised resistance to the isolation or detention of cases. I think the matter would have to go very far before any officer would bring a mother into court for obstructing the carrying out of a detention order. She would have to be a very difficult type indeed. On the other hand, there may be circumstances in which it may be necessary to have these powers to prevent an organised attempt to obstruct responsible officers in the discharge of their duties. Similarly, planning to secure the escape of a patient from detention can be a serious offence but again it is the old story. We have to take power to take a child forcibly from the mother and to prosecute the mother afterwards if she resists. We have to take all these powers in order to be able to do the things we want to do, but I do not care what administration is in power, you will never have a Minister on these Benches who will stand for that kind of thing.

There are a lot of things happening nowadays that I thought I would never see a Minister standing for.

Who would be the person to initiate a prosecution in these cases? Would it be the county manager?

I cannot say if it is a reserved function. It would be the local authority anyway.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 140:—

To delete sub-section (6).

I am just moving this amendment for the purpose of making some remarks. This sub-section shows an extraordinary solicitude in every direction, both for the person who has been apprehended in this way as it shows for the people who are looking after him. For instance, paragraph (f) would mean that the person who is arresting a patient, if he does not give him the order inside three days, could be fined £50, or could be sentenced to three months' imprisonment. However, the Minister is amending that to do away with the necessity for such a provision. Under paragraph (j), if the resident medical superintendent of the hospital did not allow the county medical officer to come in to carry out an inspection, he also would be liable to three months' imprisonment, so that the Parliamentary Secretary seems to have as little confidence in the way medical officers are going to act under this Bill as he had in some of the patients that were met with in Galway on the only occasion that any disturbance arose, Paragraph (1) proposes to protect the patient and (m) would lead one to believe that the Minister suspects that when he orders a patient to be released, the doctor who has that patient under control will not release him. I shall withdraw the amendment, but I shall move another interesting amendment, amendment No. 141.

Amendment No. 140, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 141:—

In sub-section (6) to delete the reference to paragraph (g) in line 19.

The Parliamentary Secretary, I think, agreed when we were discussing a previous amendment, that he would modify paragraph (g). I think when we were previously on amendment No. 110, to delete sub-section (2) (g), we discussed the possibility of a conflict between the county medical officer and the doctor in charge of the hospital and the Parliamentary Secretary drew in the matron of the hospital as well. This is only one of the other absurd provisions. Paragraph (g) means that if the county medical officer of health gives a direction, and if anyone who is in charge of a patient, exercising his authority, as well as his professional conscience, does not obey all the orders he gets from the medical officer of health he may be fined £50, get three months' imprisonment or both.

I think a case could be made for deleting (g) and I shall look into the matter. I think we should be able to deal with the difficulty suggested in paragraph (g) in an administrative way.

That might be a lot worse than a fine of £50.

I want to keep a few heads to crack.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 142 and 143 not moved.

I wonder if I might be allowed to move amendment No. 144, which stands in the name of Deputy Murphy?

I am afraid it would be necessary for the Deputy to have Deputy Murphy's consent. If the Deputy were a member of the same Party as Deputy Murphy, the position would be different. The Deputy understands my difficulty.

I can make the remarks which I intended to make on the section.

Amendment No. 144 not moved.

I move amendment No. 145:—

To delete sub-section (8).

I should like to direct the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to this sub-section which states:—

"The cost of the maintenance and treatment of a person to whom an order under this section relates in the hospital or other place mentioned in the order (including the cost of anything done under paragraph (e), (g) or (h) of sub-section (2) of this section) and any compensation payable to such person under paragraph (i) of sub-section (2) of this section shall be paid by the county authority of the joint district or county borough in which such person was when he was detained under the order."

There seems to be some omission there. There is a reference to a joint district or county borough, but there is no mention of the ordinary county authority.

The ordinary county authority for this purpose is the county council of the county in which the joint district is situated or the corporation of the county borough. That s the catch.

In what way does it come to be a joint district?

A joint district is a combined unit of a county rural sanitary district and every adjoining urban sanitary district situated in the county and the county becomes a joint unit.

No matter what way it is put, the local authority will pay.

In fact, it would be good fortune for a county authority if it did happen to escape under this provision. Here we have the kernel of this piece of legislation, that the cost of the maintenance and treatment of persons to whom orders are given is to be met by the local authorities. We have already indicated that, where a local authority has no voice in the enforcement of certain provisions of this measure, it is altogether unreasonable that it should be compelled to pay the cost. The Minister may step in under many sections of this Bill and may make certain Orders.

Not under this section. This refers to the cost of maintenance and treatment of a person detained.

Is it clear, in the case of a person who is forcibly detained, that the cost and expenses involved will be charged to the local authority?

I am not sure, but if it is not I intend to have it looked into and perhaps some verbal amendment may be necessary. Deputy McGilligan raised the point on Section 16, I think.

It is quite clear, at any rate, that the Parliamentary Secretary, having spread himself so fully on sub-section (2) in calling the tune, is now going to make the local authority pay. What I am concerned with in this provision is the cost, maintenance and treatment of persons to whom an order under the section relates, including the cost under paragraphs (e), (g) and (h). We all remember paragraph (h). We have also to remember that, at no period, have we been able to get an estimate of what the enforcement of this measure is going to cost the local authority. The only information that we have got so far from the Parliamentary Secretary is that one of the services to be provided under this Bill will cost between £500,000 and £600,000, 50 per cent. of which will have to be met by the local authorities —that is to say between £250,000 and £300,000. That represents roughly an increase of 4 per cent. on the rates which are at present being raised by the local authorities. That, as I say, is only one item. Now we are going to place another financial obligation on the local authorities, the extent of which we cannot judge. The point is that a local authority is going to have no say whatever once the Bill is passed. The local authority will have to see to it that the provisions in the measure are carried out and it will have to meet the cost.

It is likely that this will prove to be a fairly expensive sub-section so far as the local authorities are concerned. The reason is that the majority of the patients dealt with under the section will have to be sent away from their own districts. They can be sent to any hospital or to any other place specified. In the absence of a suitable institution in their own county, they may have to be sent to an institution that is ten, 20, 30, 40 or even 100 miles away. That will further increase the cost falling on the local authority. Sub-section (2) refers to the various acts that may be performed in relation to a patient and to a patient's detention and isolation. A patient may be detained for as long as six months. We gather that from a Ministerial amendment passed this evening, because under it the Minister has taken power, in the case of patients detained for six months, to have an inspection of them carried out by one of his medical inspectors. The cost of clothes destroyed will have to be met by the local authority.

Are we not doing so already?

We are, but the Deputy forgets the amount of steam that we are going to get up under this Bill.

If it is for the public good, is it not well to do that?

I am glad to see Deputy Walsh here as champion of putting another burden on the backs of the local ratepayers.

I have no hesitation in supporting this.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.

What is the position at present of patients in public hospitals suffering from infectious diseases? Do they pay for their own keep, or are they all paid for by the local authority?

It is open to the local authority to recover the cost of maintenance and treatment from a patient in an infectious diseases hospital, but the policy has been not unduly to press for payment because of the fact that people are isolated in the interest of the community and for the protection of the community. The local authority, however, has the right to recover from any person who can pay.

Is it the Parliamentary Secretary's intention to continue that policy? Would he agree that it is wise to adopt a policy of not charging anyone brought in in the public interest?

Section 29 is restricted to persons who are detained under a detention order, and it is felt that people who are forcibly detained ought not to have to pay for the cost of their maintenance and treatment. That was the principle behind the policy and it appears to be reasonable. If left to their own sweet will, whatever other damage they might do, they would pay for their own maintenance and treatment outside.

The Parliamentary Secretary has told the House that he is anxious to avoid force, and some individuals may wait for a detention order in order to avoid paying.

Once they get it, there will be no force.

It means the issue of more orders. They will look for an order in order to qualify for free treatment.

I did not think they were as bad as that in the Deputy's constituency.

If the Parliamentary Secretary wants to operate this properly, there ought to be no question of payment in the case of a person detained in the public interest.

There is no question of it under this section, and, if what the Deputy predicts takes place, they will all seek detention orders, and nobody will have to pay.

Is that desirable?

I thought the Deputy said it would be desirable not to charge anybody.

I do not think it desirable that they should look for detention orders in order to avoid having to pay.

I hope the Parliamentary Secretary is trying to achieve his object without having to resort to force and without having to resort to a series of detention orders in respect of patients.

If the patient is looking for a detention order, force will not be necessary.

I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary ought to be flippant when he has just come back from his tea. If the position is that most of the cost of the treatment of infectious diseases in hospitals is borne by local authorities at present, there is probably no great case for saying that the cost under this section should be borne by the State; but if the greater part of the cost is borne by private persons at present, I think that where we propose, in the terms in which we propose to do it in the section, to impose a new obligation on local authorities, it is unreasonable that the cost should be put on them.

There is great force in what Deputy Hughes said. If persons who go voluntarily into public hospitals for treatment of infectious diseases feel that they are likely to get a bill for their term in the hospital which they could avoid by being forced by the public authorities to go in, a very objectionable situation arises, because what you want in the treatment of disease of any kind is complete and active co-operation between the people and the authorities, and there would be an artificial deterrent to that kind of co-operation in the very terms of the Bill. It is quite understandable that persons should hang back and delay going into hospital until an order was issued, but one of the great points in the Parliamentary Secretary's argument in relation to all these matters is the necessity for dealing with them quickly.

Deputy Mulcahy need have no fears as to there being added costs on local authorities under this section. Most local authorities that I know of are providing the full cost of the treatment of infections diseases at present. I know that in Wexford, for a dozen years, no patient, except in very exceptional circumstances, was charged anything for treatment of infectious disease. There will be no added cost under the section. There is, of course, the opening which Deputy Hughes has pointed out for people to avail of the section in order to get out of paying, but there is no reason for it because it has been the tendency of local authorities for quite a number of years to encourage people to go into hospital for the treatment of infectious diseases and to give them free treatment, irrespective of their means, and, I think, rightly so. It is something which I have advocated for years and something which should be encouraged. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will encourage local authorities to give full, free treatment to all infectious disease cases.

My argument is that no patient should be charged, that, once compulsion is used to get an individual into an institution, he ought not to be charged. I have in mind the case of a man who was in a private hospital. Infectious disease was diagnosed while he was in the hospital and he was asked to go into the fever hospital. He did so, and then the manager, for one reason or another, decided that the fever hospital should be closed for a period and the man was sent on to another fever hospital in a neighbouring county. A bill was sent to that man for his transport from one institution to another. I think that is all wrong. That man was taken out of the private hospital which he had selected in the first instance and, in the public interest, was sent into a fever hospital, and from that institution to another. Why should he be mulcted in the cost of his transport to that institution? In view of the fact that he was isolated in the public interest, he should not have been charged at all. I merely want to try to convince the Parliamentary Secretary that it should be a definite policy and that there should be no option so far as the local authority is concerned.

The Parliamentary Secretary does not require much convincing on this issue. The position is as I have already stated it but the Deputy does not appear to have grasped it.

I want you to go a little further.

A local authority has the right to recover, but the policy of my Department in the past 14 years—I speak with personal knowledge, and, so far as my knowledge goes, the policy obtained before my time—is to discourage local authorities from attempting to recover. The practice is not to seek payment for maintenance or treatment, but people who are well off are afforded an opportunity to contribute to the cost of their maintenance, if they think fit, but I am not aware of anybody in any circumstances in my time having been brought into court for the recovery of the cost of his maintenance in a fever hospital.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 146 not moved.

Section 29, as amended, agreed to?

I think we have said enough to show that we are radically opposed to this section.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 50; Níl, 14.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Brennan, Martin.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick (County Dublin).
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Carter, Thomas.
  • Colbert, Michael.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Crowley, Honor Mary.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Kilroy, James.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McCann, John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Connor, John S.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Ua Donnchadha, Dómhnall.
  • Walsh, Laurence.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.


  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Coogan, Eamonn.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Donnell, William F.
  • Sheldon, William A. W.
Tellers: Tá: Deputies Ó Ciosáin and Ó Cinnéide; Níl: Deputies McMenamin and M.E. Dockrell.
Question declared carried.

I move amendment No. 147:—

In line 39, page 18, to delete the word "place" and substitute therefor the words "burial ground."

The old provision was that the authority may arrange and pay for the removal of the body of such person to a cemetery or a burial ground. This says: "place." There may be some reason for dropping the old provision and I would like to hear the Parliamentary Secretary on it.

There is no particular reason on that basis. The intention of the section is to give the local authority a statutory right to pay for the removal of the body of a person to a place near his home for its immediate burial there. The section is to meet the position where the patient may have been removed or may have gone to an institution a considerable distance from his own family burial ground. He might be sent by the local authority under a detention order to a particular suitable institution a very considerable distance from his home. He may be sent for specialised treatment, let us say, from a county like Cavan or Donegal to an institution in Dublin with the unfortunate ultimate result of death occurring. The local authority of the county from which he came or where he normally resided, would have no statutory authority to pay the cost of bringing home his remains, and it is for that purpose that this section has been inserted in the Bill.

I am not very happy about the word "place". I think that will require review. In fact, I think the section will require redrafting. I am not satisfied with it, from more points of view than one. I think we may as well discuss it in a general manner and we will understand one another better. There is a strictly limited number of infectious diseases in which it would be necessary, in the interests of public health, to have the body conveyed direct from the institution to the place of burial. The Church authorities themselves have long since realised that and they would be concerned if the bodies of people who died from certain of these diseases were to be brought into a church. On the other hand, the bodies of people who died from infectious diseases of a certain type might, with safety, be brought into a church before burial and, as to whether that position can best be met by extending to Section 30 the provision that we made earlier, giving us power to include certain diseases within the scope of a particular section, or whether a redraft of Section 30 to meet the particular circumstances would be the best way, I cannot say at the moment. I am dissatisfied with the section as it stands, and the proposed amendments do not meet the difficulties that I have in mind.

Under a section of the Infectious Disease (Prevention) Act, 1890, the body of a person dying from an infectious disease in a hospital or other such institution can only be removed from that institution for the purpose of burial.

And that removal would be to a burial ground near the home of the person, and the body would be buried there.

And the local authority is responsible for the cost of removal and the burial. My point is that this leaves it open, not only to bring a body to a place near the person's home, which may mean a neighbouring house or an out-office in his own home, but it also provides that he is to be buried there.

The point is that such restrictions are not necessary in respect of every disease that will be scheduled as an infectious disease under this section, but rigid provisions are necessary in respect of a limited number of infectious diseases. The provisions of the 1890 Act do not properly or adequately meet the position; neither does the provision we have made here. On the Report Stage I shall have a reconstructed Section 30 that, I think, will meet the requirements of Deputies. I take it what Deputies have in mind is that where there is not any danger to the public health, we ought to provide for the possibility of having the body brought to a place of worship on the way to burial.

Deputies will concede that in regard to a certain limited number of diseases it will be necessary to provide for an immediate and direct burial without any resting period at a place of worship. I think we should leave this matter over until I see what I can do in the matter of reconstruction. I think we are all agreed on the principle.

Very good.

I take it we are clear there are two points in this, the payment of the cost and immediate burial?

I take it the Parliamentary Secretary will make provision to disjoin the payment of the cost from the necessity for immediate burial?

Yes, and I want to break up the diseases into ones that will require immediate burial and the ones that will not.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 148 and 149 not moved.
Section 30 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 150:—

To delete sub-section (2).

Sub-section (1) arranges that a county authority may provide and maintain premises, apparatus, materials or any other facilities for the cleansing, disinfection and disinfection of persons, premises and articles. In sub-section (2) the Minister may by Order direct a county authority as to the manner in which and the extent to which they are to exercise their powers under sub-section (1) and they shall comply with such direction. This is another of the instances in which the Minister is taking power to override the judgment and desire of a local authority. I submit that the facilities that should be provided are matters that can be left to the local representatives. It has been repeatedly pointed out that the same electorate that elects the Parliament here elects local representative bodies, whose judgment, I think, in matters of this kind can be relied upon to do everything necessary.

This amendment is not acceptable. I may be told that once again, even in what may appear to be a minor matter, we are interfering with the discretion of the local authority. While it may appear on the surface to be a minor matter, it is a matter of very great importance to ensure that adequate provision of a reasonable and proper standard for disinfection and disinfestation will be made by the local authority.

As Deputies will recollect, on some of the earlier sections of the Bill I drew the attention of the House to the statutory obligation that will be upon a local authority under International Convention for the disinfection, disinfestation and deratisation of ships, and, consequently, it will be necessary that the central authority will be in a position to ensure that the necessary standard of equipment and personnel will be made available. It is natural to assume that local authorities will, in the main, discharge their responsibility in a proper manner under this section and that it may not be necessary to issue such a direction. At the same time, views as to the standard of equipment which it will be necessary to maintain, as well as personnel, and the training of personnel that should be made available, might differ very widely. One local authority might not be so enlightened as another, and might not be disposed to make the provision that would be reasonably necessary. In that way, I think it is reasonable to have some co-ordination, so as to ensure that something approaching uniformity of standard will be secured. It is not a question of trying to deprive a local authority of what might appear to be a comparatively small power. It is to ensure that if any local authority should fail in its duty in this regard the Minister will have statutory power to see that it will have to do its duty.

I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that if he wants the position to be clear he ought to amend the section, and to disclose that he has an outline of a plan, or that the Department has already decided on a plan for the equipment that they propose to decide on. If they have already made arrangements with regard to the type of personnel, and for the training of those who will be engaged in this work, the section should state that the Minister, after consultation with a local authority, may by Order direct them to get this or that type of equipment, as well as staff trained in a particular way. I suggest that that is what is meant. To start the sub-section by referring to all the things that a local authority may obtain is simply a round-about way of dealing with the matter, and throwing dust in people's eyes. If there is a plan, the Parliamentary Secretary should say in the section how it is going to be carried out.

The sub-section is based on the assumption that a local authority is incapable of making a wise decision in its own interest, and must be regimented and dictated to from the Custom House. That is a completely wrong approach. If the Minister wants co-operation in the administration of the Act I think he should drop that attitude. If it is necessary to have power dictated, as the Minister seeks in the sub-section, he might tell the House where local authorities have refused to provide equipment of this sort. There should also be some liberty in the selection of equipment. There might be different types of equipment and local authorities might favour more than one type. Individuals as well as local authorities should have the right, where more than one type of equipment was approved by experts, to make a decision, if they or their advisers felt that they did not agree with the Custom House regarding the purchase of a particular type of equipment. It might be just as well to have some experience of different types of equipment. The sub-section is very objectionable and I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary might, at this stage, consider in a small matter like this, giving some liberty and authority to local bodies to decide what type of equipment they should provide.

When it comes to a question of deciding on the provision or maintenance of apparatus, is it the county manager or the public representatives decide that it will be purchased?

It would depend on whether it was paid for out of revenue or out of loan. In the main, I think, it will be a managerial function.

In so far as equipment may be necessary under the terms of the international arrangement, surely it is unfair to put the burden on the local authorities.

Under the International Convention they will be paid for the service.

Question—"That the words proposed to be deleted, stand"—put and declared carried.
Amendment No. 151 not moved.

I move amendment No. 152:

In sub-section (3) to delete all words from the word "concerned" in line 50 to the end of the sub-section and substitute therefor the following words:—"shall provide such facility free of charge".

In order to encourage everybody who requires such services there ought to be no charge for the use of equipment of this kind.

The principle of the amendment has been already discussed.

Is it on the treatment in institutions?

On an amendment similar to this one, the Deputy suggested that a local authority should not have the statutory right to recover any charge for conveying patients to an institution.

There is nothing about conveying patients in Section 31 (3).

It is a disinfection charge. The same point can be made in its favour as was made for the Minister's statutory right to direct a local authority to make such provision. The local authority will recover the cost of disinfestation or disinfection under the International Convention. Similarly, the local authority will carry out disinfection or disinfestation for, say, the owner of a public service vehicle or the owner of a private vehicle who has conveyed, of his own volition, an infectious person to an institution. It seems reasonable that the local authority should have the power to recover. In fact, they have the power under the International Convention in certain instances, but it does seem reasonable that if they place their services at the disposal of a private person who has incurred the necessity of having such disinfection carried out, they ought to have statutory power to recover the cost.

They have that under Section 28.

I think there is no analogy between this and the disinfection or disinfestation of a ship because the local authority is concerned with its own people. The reason that prompted me to put down this amendment is that it would encourage people to look for the service and to ensure that on every occasion and in every case where it is necessary to have disinfection and disinfestation carried out it will be carried out. If there is a charge imposed it may well happen that in order to evade the charge an individual who ought to have this process carried out, in the public interest, may neglect it. In order to ensure that the proposals embodied in this Bill will operate successfully and that all the precautions that we are asked to take will be taken, I suggest that, for the sake of a small charge, the local authority ought not to look for a fee. Wherever necessary and as far as possible the equipment available for doing this work should be utilised.

I suppose the Deputy appreciates that the argument he is advancing in favour of this amendment is in conflict with the argument he has advanced lately concerning another amendment?

Just a minute, now. The authors of this measure have been pretty severely criticised from time to time during the discussion of this Bill for interfering with the discretion of local authorities. Here we are providing that the local authority may, in the exercise of its discretion, recover certain costs for certain services and we are told now that we should not give the local authority that discretion. It does not seem to me logical or reasonable.

Who is the local authority here—the county manager?

The local authority is the whole body. The county manager and the elected representatives combined make up the local authority.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary say whether the local representatives will have any say in the decision that would be taken under sub-section (3), if it is allowed to stand as it is?

If the manager makes any decision that they do not approve of, they can suspend him.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary suggest that when a county manager acts in respect of the functions of the county council other than the reserved functions that he may be made amenable in any way to the county council?

Of course, he can.

I should like to hear something further about it.

We will not get into the Managerial Act.

The Parliamentary Secretary thinks he has made a rather clever debating point against me.

I did not boast of its cleverness.

He says that I am acting contrary to the way in which I have acted on another amendment. There is a complete difference between this Parliament deciding that the local authority should pay for a certain service and giving power to the Minister to dictate to the local authority. There is no analogy. But, unless this institution makes a decision that it is in the public interest that the local authority should finance the service, I am against giving power to the Minister to dictate to the local authority.

Did not this institution give the Minister all the powers he has?

The Parliamentary Secretary is asking for these powers and, of course, he will regiment his Party to get the powers.

Where did we get the Party—from the people.

Yes, we are quite well aware of that, but there are other sections of the House that represent a considerable volume of opinion. As a matter of fact, the majority of the people of this country are represented on this side of the House.

The majority of the vocal people anyway.

They are vocal all right. There is no question about that.

That is the difference. If the Parliamentary Secretary is as anxious as he professes to be to ensure that the equipment will be provided to carry out disinfection and disinfestation, it is not a wise course to decide that there should be a charge made in certain cases.

I should like to give some little discretion to the local authority.

That is? I should like to know why the Parliamentary Secretary insists on retaining a clause in the Bill just to give the county manager a discretion as to whom he shall send a bill to when cleansing or disinfecting or disinfestation is carried out—because that is all this sub-section does. It retains power to the county manager to decide that he shall charge some body that he makes up his mind to charge.

I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary is there any change envisaged under sub-section (3) in what is the present practice. Last summer disinfection was carried out at a number of private houses in connection with an outbreak of infantile paralysis. The houses were disinfected by the local authority. I am not sure what powers the local authority had but I think the people were asked and I would say that practically everybody, if not everybody, was very pleased to have it done. It was done and, as far as I am aware, there was no charge for it. Is any change in the practice envisaged?

No, but the Deputy could envisage the position where extension of that service might be desirable. It might not be part of a public health scheme. People living half a mile away or a mile away might say: "That is a very good idea. There has been a case or two of infantile paralysis. The whole place has been cleaned up and disinfected, and so on, the fly nuisance has been eliminated. I should like to have my house done although there is no immediate need, from the point of view of public health." I think it would be quite a good thing——

I think it would be excellent.

——if the local authority could place that service at the disposal of private individuals like that and charge them a fee if they were people who could well afford to pay for the service. If they were not people who could well afford to pay for the service the service ought to be free to them.

I am very glad to hear that because that was done in my own house and no flies came into the house for, I think, three or four months afterwards.

Anyone who has practical experience of it will be nothing short of amazed at the results. There is no doubt at all about that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 153 and 159 are the same.

The same principle. I move amendment No. 153:—

In sub-section (3), to add a new paragraph as follows:—

(c) any such charge shall be a reasonable charge and be recoverable only from the person against whom it is sought to enforce such charge if the financial circumstances of such person reasonably permit him to pay such charge.

If there is to be a charge it should be a reasonable charge and appropriate to the person's means. As the section stands at the moment, any charge that is fixed by the county manager is recoverable.

We debated the same principle on an earlier amendment, very fully.

With what result?

The result was, I think, a draw. The Deputy may have thought he won on points, but I think it was a draw.

I have no delusion about winning anything from the Parliamentary Secretary—none whatever. I do not think I got one single thing from him in the 80 or 90 amendments that I put down.

I gave you some when you were not here at all.

I will be greatly surprised to hear them on Report Stage. Will the Parliamentary Secretary state whether this amendment will be a draw or a win, or am I going to lose?

I think the Deputy loses.

That is in accordance with my expectation, the amendment being a reasonable one. I think I will press it.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary say why he could not adopt the paragraph giving this safeguard to people?

Because if the charge is unreasonable, the court will not allow the charge.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary say where he got that proposition? Is it from the Parliamentary draftsman or the legal adviser he sometimes refers to?

I had better not disclose the source.

He would be ashamed to disclose it. Probably he did not get it from any source.

Our sources of information are unlimited.

And completely unreliable.

I think the House ought to understand the paragraph which the Parliamentary Secretary is interpreting in the way he is interpreting it. He says that where a person uses the facilities provided under this section the county authority concerned may make a charge for the use of the facility. Where does the discretion of the court come in there?

Suppose the question of the reasonableness of the charge is raised, then they will have to proceed to the court.

It would be within the competence of the court to inquire into the reasonableness of the charge.

That is the point. The court would ultimately decide.

I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary is endeavouring to persuade the House that as it stands at the moment nothing but a reasonable charge can be recovered. I assert the contrary—that the courts cannot investigate the reasonableness of the charge. The local authority so-called, in reality the county manager, can fix the charge for the services. There is no power in the courts to question that charge. In the second place, the Parliamentary Secretary has not dealt with the latter part of the amendment, that, even in the case of a reasonable charge, such charge should only be made against a person whose means enable him to pay. As it stands, the local authority, alias the county manager, can make a charge on anybody, whether his financial circumstances allow him to pay or not, and can harass a particular individual or family by means of an instalment order under the Enforcement of Court Orders Act with a view to extracting something for the payment.

Is there any reply to that?

We had all that earlier.

The Parliamentary Secretary had not time to consult his authorities.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 19; Níl, 46.

  • Bennett, George C.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Donnell, William F.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Martin.
  • Sheldon, William A. W.


  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Brennan, Thomas.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick (County Dublin).
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Colbert, Michael.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Crowley, Honor Mary.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Furlong, Walter.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kilroy, James.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McCann, John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Connor, John S.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Ua Donnchadha, Dómhnall.
  • Walsh, Laurence.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Bennett and McMenamin; Níl: Deputies O Cíosáin and O Briain.
Question declared lost.
Section 31 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

I move amendment No. 154:—

In page 19, line 4, to delete the words "with such attendants (if any) as they consider necessary,".

This is a drafting amendment. The Local Government Act deals with the appointment of officers and servants. Hence, it is not necessary to include in this section the words which it is proposed to delete.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 155:—

To add to the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(2) A county authority may provide heating, lighting, furniture, equipment and any other necessaries and amenities for any shelter or accommodation provided by them under this section and may supply food, with or without a charge therefor, to any person using such shelter.

The relevant provisions in the existing law are Section 15 of the Infectious Disease (Prevention) Ast, 1890, which it is proposed to repeal, and Section 61 of the Public Health (Amendment) Act, 1907, which it is also proposed to repeal. Section 15 of the Act of 1890 sets out:—

"The local authority shall from time to time provide, free of charge, temporary shelter or house accommodation, with any necessary attendance, for the members of any family in which infectious disease has appeared, who have been compelled to leave their dwelling for the purpose of enabling such dwelling to be disinfected by the local authority."

Similar power, in more extended form, is provided in the Act of 1907. These sections are being repealed and Section 32 is in replacement of them. This amendment is necessary to complete the machinery.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 32, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment No. 156 not moved.

I move amendment No. 157:—

In sub-section (1), page 19, to add at the end of the sub-section the words "and for the return of such persons on their discharge from such hospitals or places of isolation".

The object of this amendment is to enable a county authority, in addition to providing suitable conveyance for the transport of persons suffering from, or suspected to be suffering from, infectious disease to hospitals or places of isolation, to arrange also for the return of those patients on their discharge from the institution.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 158:—

To delete sub-section (2).

This is analogous to the amendment I moved to Section 31.

Amendment put and negatived.

The same principle applies to amendment No. 159 as to the amendment on which there has already been a division, so there is no use in taking up the time of the House in moving it.

Amendment No. 159 not moved.
Section 33, as amended, agreed to.

I think amendment No. 160 is met, if I may say so, by the new Section 19.

Yes, by amendment No. 85.

Amendments Nos. 160 and 161 not moved.

I move amendment No. 162:—

In sub-section (3), page 19, line 46, to insert before the word "by" the words "wholly or partly".

This is a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 163 and 164 might be argued together.

They are slightly different but there is no reason why they should not be argued together.

I move amendment No. 163:—

In sub-section (4), line 52, to delete all the words after the word "the" and substitute therefor the words "District Court".

The sub-section as it at present stands provides that any doubt, dispute or question which arises as to whether provision should be made under this section for the maintenance of any person or his dependents or as to the amount or nature of such provision shall be decided by the Minister whose decision shall be final. The section provides for the maintenance of persons suffering from infectious diseases and, where such persons are bread-winners, for the maintenance of the people dependent on them. It says that a county authority of a county or county borough shall make certain provisions and in sub-section (3) it provides that the county authority may, with the consent of the Minister, make under the section provision for the maintenance of any person or his dependents by defraying the cost of the employment of another person to act as substitute for such person during his absence or incapacity. It seems to me that where a person has a grievance against a local authority on the grounds that suitable or adequate provision is not made for his maintenance or the maintenance of his dependents under the section, it is unreasonable to leave the Minister as the only authority to decide that matter. My amendment would provide that the District Court might be appealed to to decide the adequacy or otherwise of the provision made.

My amendment No. 164 follows much the same principle as Deputy Mulcahy's amendment but the machinery which it provides is slightly different. Deputy Mulcahy's amendment provides that if there is any dispute or doubt as to whether or not a person is able to provide for the maintenance of his dependents while he is incarcerated under the provisions of the Bill, that dispute or doubt shall be determined by a court, namely the District Court. I allow the Minister to have his say in it but I give an appeal to the Circuit Court from the Minister's decision. So long as there is any court whatever, which will provide an appeal from the Ministerial Order or the order of the county authority on the question as to whether or not a person who is suffering under the drastic provisions of this Bill is able to provide for his dependents, I am quite content. As it stands at the moment the position is that a person may be suffering from an infectious disease or some medical gentleman may say that he is a probable source of infection and accordingly he is incarcerated. In either case the dependents of that afflicted person have to live. It is only in the very exceptional case that a person in that position is able to make provision for his dependents. Of course, it will be in the interest of the local authority to say that each individual concerned is, in fact, capable of making provision for his dependents and accordingly they will say that they will make no provision for these dependents. In effect, that decision will be taken by the county manager.

While we have the paraphernalia of the county authority referred to in the Bill, in fact, the decision as to whether a person is capable of maintaining his relatives will be taken by the county manager. The appeal will be from the county manager to the Minister and as the scheme of local government is operated at the moment, we know the county manager is the creature of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. In other words the appeal is from the person who has to pay to himself or to his alter ego. There is no real genuine appeal at all. It is a matter of very grave import for any person whose liberty is interfered with by the provisions of this Bill if in addition to that, he finds himself in the position that his dependents are left without any provision for their maintenance. Should he or they become involved with the local authority in a dispute as to whether or not he is able to make provision for them while he is being subjected to the drastic provisions of this Bill, it is an added affliction on him and there should be a completely independent tribunal which will decide the issue as between that afflicted person, his dependents and the local authority. The Minister, whoever he may be, in my view is not a person whose judgment can be relied upon to give an independent decision.

I fancy that the Minister should welcome this amendment as he certainly will have sufficient to do under the ramifications of this measure without taking on this added duty. He ought to leave disputes between affected people and local authorities to be determined by the courts in which the people have confidence. Is there any special reason why this particular type of dispute should not be determined by the courts in which the people have confidence? Why should the Minister be the sole arbiter in a dispute as to whether John Black, who has been removed to a place of detention under this Bill, is or is not able to maintain his dependents? I think the Minister in his own interests ought to place that obligation on the ordinary courts. He will have ample duties to attend to under other provisions of the Bill without going into the question as to whether such people are properly maintainable or not. I think the Minister should accept the principle of these amendments and so make the section more satisfactory to all parties concerned.

I should like to support the amendment for a different reason from that put forward by the proposer or the last speaker. My chief interest in the section is that this money will have to be provided by the ratepayers, and I can see a possibility of some person getting maintenance for his dependents under this section which the ratepayers might have a reasonable objection to provide. If there was collusion between this man and others, he could get the evidence of certain persons to show that he was entitled to this allowance for maintenance and the only appeal that lies at the moment is to the Minister. I suggest, in addition to the reasons given by Deputy Keyes and the proposer of the amendment, that it would be in the interests of people who are detained, their dependents and, finally, in the interests of the ratepayers, who will have to pay the costs in any case, if the Minister accepted the amendment.

I think it is a pity that we have not a bigger House, including, if you like, this Party.

We can ring the bells.

We have enough to go on with. This is a very important section. I have already convinced the Government Party, and I would like to have an opportunity of convincing the opponents and critics of the section.

In other words, the Government Party have been struck dumb.

They have been carried away with enthusiasm for this section in particular.

Their legs have given way.

There are only six on your side, including yourself.

They have already been convinced that this is one of the best social measures that has ever been introduced into this House and they are all wondering what on earth has come over the Opposition.

Could we hear the Parliamentary Secretary on the amendment?

The Parliamentary Secretary will come to the amendment. The Deputy need not worry about that. In coming to the amendment I arrive at the section, and in order that we can fully understand the implications there are in the acceptance of this amendment, we will have to look at the section somewhat more closely than, apparently, it has been examined by the Deputies who have so far taken part in the discussion. The section provides:—

"Where a person suffering from an infectious disease and undergoing treatment therefor is unable to make reasonable and proper provision for his own maintenance or the maintenance of his dependents, the county authority of the county or county borough in which such person ordinarily resides shall make the said provision."

Regardless of whether a person is suffering from an infectious disease or is a probable source of infection; regardless of whether he is removed under a detention order; regardless of whether he goes to an institution voluntarily, or because of the fact that he is a probable source of infection if he remains in his home —he may, for the protection of the community have to surrender his employment—under these and various other circumstances the local authority will be under a statutory obligation to provide reasonable maintenance for himself and for his dependents.

When the question comes to be faced, what constitutes reasonable maintenance, a variety of considerations will arise. Now, I do not suggest that the district justice is not competent to deal with the variety of considerations, but I do suggest that the Minister and his officers have more information at their disposal, and are more familiar with the relevant factors that have to be considered in reaching a decision on this matter than any district justice could possibly be, or, for that matter, any Circuit Court judge. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health will be particularly concerned, under this section, to see that bread-winners in the early stages of tuberculosis, for example, and in particular, will not be deterred from seeking and obtaining early treatment in the hope, and in the belief, that if we can induce people to come forward at an early stage for treatment we will succeed not only in cutting off the sources of infection and the causes of the spread of the disease, but that we will succeed in substantially reducing the mortality rate. If we get them early enough, as I have already stated in this House on many occasions: if we can induce people suffering from tuberculosis to come forward early enough for treatment, then it is as certain as that I am addressing the House that the vast majority of them can be cured. It is more particularly for that purpose, than for any other purpose, that Section 34 has been put into this Bill.

It is suggested to me that, having made this provision with the deliberate purpose of dealing in a reasonable and methodical way with that aspect of tuberculosis, the Minister who who is responsible for the submission of that line of policy to the House should not be trusted with the operation of it. Frankly, I think it is a great mistake. I grant that it would be a great relief to the Minister and to his Department not to be cluttered up with appeals which, as Deputy Keyes has suggested, will almost certainly arise under this measure in the early stages until standards come to be adopted and recognised. When standards do come to be adopted, recognised and accepted by the local authorities the appeals will not be nearly as frequent. There are many considerations that are closely related to health that will have a bearing on these decisions. The Minister, with the advice of his professional and technical advisers, will be the best judge of the nutritional standard that it is necessary to maintain if the purpose of Section 34 is to be effected. While a district justice may come to such a problem once in a while, the study of such a problem is the everyday business of the Minister and the staff of his Department, and I venture to say —I feel the fullest conviction on this —that, so far as the patients themselves and their dependents are concerned, it would be much better for them to be depending on the Minister for Local Government and Public Health as the ultimate tribunal for the purpose of deciding this matter of the amount and extent of the maintenance than on any court of justice in this country.

This is going to be a rather difficult matter until standards come to be accepted. Clearly, we cannot decide on any standard that will have uniform application. The extent to which the isolation, either at home or in an institution, interferes with the normal and natural economy of the homestead will have to be taken into the fullest consideration.

By the Minister, for the whole country.

Clearly, a varying set of circumstances will arise. The farmer with a holding of £5 valuation and five, six or seven children depending upon him will naturally and properly be entitled to a higher rate of maintenance than the farmer of £50 valuation with perhaps nobody depending on him, and in rural Ireland the farmer will constitute the main bulk of the section of the population with which we will have to deal. In the towns and cities, to a very great extent, the same line of reasoning will apply. There will be people undergoing institutional treatment or undergoing domestic isolation or segregation whose normal income will be very little affected by the fact that they have had to be withdrawn from work. On the other hand, there will be people in the cities and towns —and many of them—who, by complying with the terms of the Public Health Act when it becomes an Act, will have completely to surrender their earnings, will have completely to give up their positions whatever they may be, and the income in that type of case will be entirely cut off.

Where the income is completely cut off, reasonable maintenance will have to be provided for the breadwinner and his dependents, and again you cannot have any fixed standard in advance that I can see because each case will have to be considered on its merits. At present if any man with dependents contracts tuberculosis, there is no use in going to him and saying: "Come into our institution. We can cure you," unless you can say to him: "We are going to see to it that your dependents will not be in want while you are there." If he has six, seven, eight, nine or ten dependents, as in my experience he very often has, we clearly must have a corresponding scale of allowances which will be reasonable to meet the circumstances of each particular case.

I am invited by this amendment to hand all these cases over to the court. If the individual who is now given a statutory right to reasonable maintenance is not satisfied, he goes to court and gets a decision in the court. It would be an easy way out for me. Bear this in mind, that the man with the money can afford to go to court and can afford to go from one court to another, but the people with whom we should be immediately and particularly concerned cannot afford to go to any court and we are providing them here with a machinery which will do justice to them but which will not cost them money. I have not yet come across, in my experience, any profession, other than the medical profession, which is prepared to place its professional services at the disposal of the poor, without charge, in case of necessity.

I have listened to a considerable amount of claptrap from the Parliamentary Secretary during the course of this debate, but he has excelled himself in the speech he has just made. The statement that it is only the rich man who can go to court is, of course, disproved. There is nobody who can go to court more freely and with greater impunity than the man with nothing. He can go right to the Supreme Court at a cost of nothing to himself and at considerable costs to his opponents. The rich man about whom the Parliamentary Secretary talks hesitates before he goes to court, because he is liable for costs. The poor man can never be liable for costs and that is the real value of giving the poor man a resort to the courts. He can go there far more freely than the rich man, and I have never yet come across any man who was denied justice by reason of the fact that he had no money.

I have read the Constitution of this State in which there are all sorts of highfalutin provisions about the courts. Provisions are made for the different courts, but it appears to be the aim of practically every measure introduced and passed in this Parliament to deprive the courts set up by the taxpayer and flaunted in the Constitution of a considerable amount of jurisdiction. What is asked here in my amendment is that there should be an appeal from the Minister. The Parliamentary Secretary says that his Department will have greater facilities for deciding these matters. He says that they will have more facts before them. That struck me as being a most startling statement to make—the fact that the Minister, or his officials, as it will be in actual fact, will have before them, will apparently have something told to them, which the person involved in the case will never be apprised of, or know, or have an opportunity of making any comment on.

It is all to be done behind closed doors, but this Ministry has such a high regard for the standards of nutrition necessary to keep people going that they are the persons to be trusted with this task. One would think that the Parliamentary Secretary did not belong to a Government which has insisted, in the teeth of all the opposition for years past, on standing on standstill wages Orders and on keeping wages low and letting prices soar high. That is the Department which is to be given the sole and exclusive right of saying, in the absence of the person involved, whether or not his family is getting enough from the local authority or whether they ought to get something more.

I have in my amendment given the Minister's Department the power to rule upon the matter. It is after the Minister with his expert staff has ruled upon the matter that there is to be an appeal to the courts. Anybody with any experience of the working of the courts, whether District Court, Circuit Court, High Court or Supreme Court, will know that when a matter has filtered through a Department, that fact is given the greatest possible consideration in the court before which the matter comes. In this case, if it can be shown that, because of the expert knowledge of the staff of the Minister's Department or because of some special knowledge they had, or because of particular facts before them, their decision is more likely to be correct than the decision asked for by the appellant from the Minister, that decision will be given effect to by the courts.

But it appears to me that the taxpayers are to be saddled with an additional burden under this measure. The Parliamentary Secretary says that every case will have to be decided upon its own merits. No person will ever think he gets enough from a local authority and every person granted a sum of money by a local authority to enable his dependents to be kept will have, and naturally will have, the idea that the provision being made is not adequate in all the circumstances for his dependents, and there will be appeals in every single case. They will come before the Minister, and the Minister must have a special staff because the Parliamentary Secretary says that each individual case must be dealt with on its own merits. A new building will have to be erected somewhere to house the staff necessary to deal with all the cases which will come before the Minister under the provision as it stands.

My amendment enables a person to do what is supposed to be the right of each individual citizen—to resort to the public courts set up by the taxpayers to enable his case to be put forward there. It is the very people for whose benefit this provision is being enacted that I am appealing. No person has any feeling that he is getting justice if his case is heard by officials behind closed doors and without his case being properly put by him or by his own advisers. We have had the experience in this State in the last 20 years of seeing the whole system of appeals in the courts changed by the present Government, because of the allegation that individual citizens down the country, whose appeals from the Circuit Court were being heard on notes, were dissatisfied because they could not go to the court in person and make their own cases.

The whole judicial system was altered by the present Government to give effect to the public demand which was alleged to exist. If there were any substance in that—and I believe there was some substance in it—surely it applies here in a case of this kind also, where not only an individual's personal rights are affected but the rights of people far dearer to him than he himself, his dependents? No individual who has had the misfortune to be afflicted with an infectious disease or to be the subject of an order incarcerating him as a probable source of infection is going to be satisfied with the investigation of his case that is to be made by officials and officialdom in the Department of the Minister.

What is going to happen if what the Minister says is going to be a fact? Each case has to be decided on its own merits, each case has to be examined by an official, each case has to become the subject of a file or series of files passing from one to another. Before the unfortunate man or his dependents get what the Minister is going to give, his family and dependents are starving. Months and months must of necessity elapse before the appeal is heard, and in the meantime who is to support the dependents? There should be some practical outlook on this matter. It is not a matter for the high-falutin speech which the Parliamentary Secretary made a moment ago. That was a speech which would have been more appropriate on the Second Reading. It was one which had no relevance whatever to the amendment now proposed.

If you look at this in a practical way, the appeal should be to an independent body, an independent judicial person who can hear it quickly, expeditiously and cheaply. There would be no necessity for files and no necessity for passing files from one person to another. There would be no necessity for civil servants working up what the Parliamentary Secretary calls "a standard" and then seeing that each case rigidly conforms, irrespective of the circumstances of that case, to the particular standard that has been evolved after months of file-passing, cogitation and red tape in the new Department to be set up.

Listening to the Parliamentary Secretary's introductory remarks, I was expecting to be duly impressed and expected to hear a heavy pronunciamento, but he resolved his speech into an exaggerated case of the customary ego which would need to be classified in the Schedules set out in the Bill itself.

It would need a special measure.

The speech was rather extraordinary in itself, but the Parliamentary Secretary said he regretted he had not a bigger audience present to hear his introduction. He simply stated that he was a better authority than the district justice to try the variable nature of cases. I suggest that, in spite of all the ramifications of the Parliamentary Secretary's duties, the district justice has wider scope and a more varied type of case in ordinary practice. He is a trained legal man and paid by the State to be able to assess evidence, weigh up between one and another and give a fair and equitable decision. He enjoys the confidence of every type and class of people in the country. The Parliamentary Secretary is the first person I have heard reflect on his ability to do his business. It is certainly a reflection on the district justice in the minds of the people if we are told that officials in the Custom House can do the job better than he can. The Custom House has not been so remarkable for its speed. It is one of the places associated in the public mind with lethargy and slow-coach motion.

If the man down the country who has had the misfortune to be captured with an infectious disease and brought under this section goes to look for compensation for relatives from the county authority, the Minister himself is already there, as the county authority is, I suggest, acting under the direct control of the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary. There will be some views expressed by the elected representatives, but they are stilled very much in recent times. I believe that, if there is any dispute there, the sympathy of the public representatives will be with the victim, in the event of a dispute as to whether the circumstances warrant compensation being paid. The Parliamentary Secretary went on to describe the difference between £5 and £50 valuation of a farm. I suggest both are entitled to compensation. I think it is a question of determining the amount in the actual circumstances and it is not a function of the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary, dealing with a Public Health Bill, to start out dealing with compensation cases. That is obviously a case for the District Court, if the local authority cannot agree with the applicant. It is the speediest and the readiest method of approach. You get right down to the courts and they are not going to be stopped by lack of funds.

I suggest again that there is no man, woman or child throughout the country who would not prefer to submit his case to a local District Court—to which they have frequent recourse—than send it up to the Custom House, where they will have to wade through files, and goodness knows when it will come back. The Parliamentary Secretary should welcome this suggestion, as if he does not accept it he is going to clutter himself up with endless confusion, with the files coming in from all over the country; and if he thinks he is doing a better job for the people concerned, I suggest he is not. Neither is he doing himself a service nor is he going to improve the administration of the Department. He should leave this job to the people who are appointed and paid to do it and in whom the people of the country have complete confidence, that is the district justices.

The Parliamentary Secretary has opened up the whole section, which I think it is very important to do. Let us have now as complete a picture as possible of what is going to happen under this section, what problems are likely to have to be decided and what the general financial effect of it is going to be. I moved an amendment simply to deal with the question of appeal, and it comes on here first, but I think the Parliamentary Secretary properly opened up the question of the whole section. Let us begin with the first thing involved here, which is the question of infectious disease that prevents a breadwinner from earning his daily bread, either by reason of the fact that he is a sufferer from it or is a probable source of infection arising out of his being connected with the disease in some way.

On the 28th March, I asked if the Minister for Local Government and Public Health would furnish a list of the diseases which it is his intention to declare to be infectious for the purpose of various sections of the Public Health Bill. We got a lot of information with regard to various sections, but none in regard to Section 34. The Parliamentary Secretary now boosts this section, particularly in relation to tuberculosis. Surely the expense that will arise out of this in connection with tuberculosis will be only a small part of the expense that will arise in general, and surely the problems that will arise out of tuberculosis will be only a small part of the general problems that will arise? I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary now what diseases are going to be regarded as infectious diseases under this section. We cannot have any very great knowledge of the extent of the problem that will confront him in dealing with appeals that might arise on the section until we know that. In his remarks he gave a fairly general idea of the type of problem that will arise in any particular county for the person who is deciding whether the sufferer from a disease is in such a financial or social or economic circumstance that the fact that he is suffering from the disease prevents him from maintaining his family. That is a problem that can only be decided locally, and I do not know what kind of information the Minister could have that would enable him to decide an appeal sent to him arising out of a decision.

I submit that on the question of whether a person, by being incapacitated by a disease, is unable to provide for his family, any kind of appeal to be dealt with in a reasonable or effective way would have to be considered by somebody with knowledge of the local circumstances, and the Minister could not have any knowledge of that. In the same way, the question of the amount allowed by the local authority for the maintenance of the family is a matter too, as the Parliamentary Secretary says, that would differ with various locations. It would be different in the County Borough of Dublin from the County Borough of Limerick; it would be different in the urban district council of some small district from the County Borough of Limerick and it would be different in a rural district from what it would be in any of these other districts. Decisions have to be taken locally arising out of these circumstances and I think the mind of a district justice brought to bear on an appeal would be a much more informed mind than the mind of the Minister.

It seems to me, if we understand the Parliamentary Secretary properly, that a very big Department is going to be set up. This may be one means of providing additional work for the new Ministry that will be established. If that is so, then they will be setting up a Ministry that is bound to develop even a more rigid mind on the question of fixing a standard of nutrition and income than could even be imagined by the local government mind at the moment. The Parliamentary Secretary has indicated that the standard of nutrition and the standard of income will be set down. Can he give us any idea of what the Departmental mind is in relation to these things at the moment? Anything the Parliamentary Secretary has said suggests to me, at any rate, the utter impossibility of the Minister being anything like a satisfactory court of appeal in a matter of this kind. I urge very strongly that the only type of appeal court that you could have with any kind of reasonable knowledge of local circumstances would be the District Court.

In the first three sub-sections very clear-cut and definite provisions are made for the maintenance of persons or their relatives suffering from infectious diseases. I think those provisions are reasonable and are very easy to interpret and it would be a very grave reflection on our judicial system if our courts were unable to interpret them fairly and equitably. If we are to accept the Parliamentary Secretary's contention that the matters involved are so complicated that our ordinary courts would be unable to interpret them fairly, I think we should accept the view that our courts are absolutely worthless and should be abolished and that we should, instead of having an independent judiciary, have all disputes between local authorities and local authorities, between citizens and citizens, between local authorities and the Department, or citizens and the Department, decided by the head of a Government Department. In other words, instead of adjudication through the courts, we should have a system of Departmental justice.

I think in some of the totalitarian States that system has been established. The head of a Government Department decides all questions in dispute between citizens themselves and between citizens and the Department. I do not think we want that here. I think we ought to have sufficient confidence in our courts to be satisfied that our courts are capable of interpreting simple and fairly clear-cut sub-sections of this kind.

There is provision here for the maintenance of a person affected with an infectious disease, and isolated. There is provision for the dependents and there is also provision for the employment of a person to take his place in case he is isolated. Those provisions are clear-cut and definite and any court should be capable of interpreting them, whether it is the Circuit Court or the District Court. Any court should be capable of calling to its aid all the technical and expert advice it requires. Therefore, I think the Parliamentary Secretary should accept either of those two amendments. I am unable to decide which of them is the more appropriate, but we should accept the principle that, in the case of a dispute, the courts should have the deciding voice.

I think it is important that we would know what are the infectious diseases to be declared as infectious diseases for the purpose of this section. It would be ridiculous for us to discuss and finally dispose of this section until we know that.

It seems to me it would be entirely illogical to restrict the operation of this section in respect of any infectious disease. If a person is suffering from an infectious disease, the test must be not what the particular disease is, but whether, in fact, because of that person having contracted an infectious disease, he has to give up his employment, or, because he is a probable source of infection, he has to give up his employment. It seems to me that must be the test and if a person has to surrender employment and is no longer able, because of the operation of this Bill, to look after his dependents in a reasonable and proper way, the section must operate, regardless of what the disease is, so long as it is one of the scheduled infectious diseases.

That being so, I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if we can take it that the diseases which will be regarded as infectious for the purpose of Section 34 are on the first printed list?

They are the diseases that will be declared under Section 18.

They include typhus and typhoid?

The whole gamut.

Diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis, scabies, syphilis, gonorrhea, influenza, pneumonia, ringworm, mumps—it includes all these?

Provided that, as a result of the operation of this Bill, the bread-winner has to be isolated and has to give up his employment.

Isolated in an institution or in his home?

If he is not allowed to go out to work because he has this disease?

Or some member of his family.

That is as regards the bread-winner as sufferer. Now, as to the bread-winner who is a contact.

The same will apply.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary give us any idea of what length of time the contact would be incapacitated, would be prevented from going to work? I refer to the person who has touch with any of these diseases.

That would be a pretty big job.

Take, for instance, measles. Suppose that a case of measles occurs in a house, will the contacts in the house have to be isolated for a certain number of days, and, if so, for how long?

I would not say how long. It is a question for the medical officer.

Take a likely case and its implications. Could the Parliamentary Secretary say whether any estimate has been made of the financial effects of this section?

No estimate could be made, for the reason that you would require to be furnished in advance with the economic circumstances of the prospective patient. You cannot estimate the probable number of patients, nor can you have any idea of the sections of the community that will be most likely to be affected.

So this is a complete leap in the dark from the point of view of expense.

From the point of view of policy.

From the point of view of policy. Apparently, it is a complete leap in the dark with regard to the implications of that policy. For instance, if a person is badly run down, and is insured under the National Health Insurance Act, he may have a wife and eight or nine children and gets only a few shillings a week. If that person got mumps the local authority would have to maintain him and his wife and family.

If the chief medical officer decides.

I take it that mumps is mumps.

We agree there.

If it is going to be declared an infectious disease, no medical officer can do anything but decide to isolate a person with mumps. It is the same with whooping-cough. Are we going to have a position in which, arising out of the social circumstances of a person, the medical officer decides that one person with mumps will be allowed to go to work and another will not?

We will try to meet that position.

This is a leap in the dark with regard to expense. It is also a leap in the dark as regards an invitation in respect to other disabilities under which people will labour in sickness and in relation to any development that may take place in the National Health Insurance scheme. It is just policy. Are we right, simply because we are told it is policy, with a capital "P" to take a leap in the dark as regards the expenditure that is going to fall upon the rates, and not do anything towards making a contribution towards that expenditure from the State? If the proposal is, that the whole cost of the new policy is going to fall on the rates, and that we are going to be asked to put it on the rates, without the slightest information as to what the cost to the rates of that policy is going to be, then I think the Parliamentary Secretary is asking this House to do what is absolutely unprecedented.

Would the Deputy intimate how an estimate could be made?

I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to take page 33 of the annual report of the Registrar-General, in which he will find a certain number of infectious diseases, between those that are lettered on page 129, in respect of which information is given in a general way on page 133, and others which are specially noted. There is a full list of the number of cases of infectious disease notified during 1944.

There is nothing there about their economic circumstances.

No, but there are Departments in this State, such as the statistics section of the Department of Industry and Commerce, which deal with the whole question of our national income, our national production and census of population.

These figures are not effective here.

They are related to the general condition of our people here, and some kind of estimate could be made from them. If we were only to think of a number or a percentage, say that if one-third of the people suffering from infectious diseases had to be provided for, we could get some kind of figure that would be a base line figure. Anybody who wanted to question the weakness of the assumption one way or another would be able to deduct from that figure according as they wished to review the situation. At this stage of this widespread measure to ask the House to agree to this section without giving the slightest statistical information that would indicate how an estimate might be arrived at, is more than the Parliamentary Secretary is warranted in asking. What does the Parliamentary Secretary suggest would give some information as to what we are doing? He says it is policy. It is certainly policy with a capital "P". Nothing else is given by way of information as to what that policy is.

We all approve of the proposals embodied in the section to help a man suffering from infectious disease, who is unable to maintain himself, and who must be isolated, even as a contact, when he is not able to provide for his dependents. We agree with the Parliamentary Secretary when he says that he intends to give special attention to tuberculosis cases. We all appreciate that there is no hope for a man suffering from tuberculosis, if he has to be continually worrying about the state of his family at home, while he is laid up in a helpless condition in an institution. We have discussed it before and the House is unanimous that ample provision should be made. But, first of all, we have no information and the Parliamentary Secretary says he is not able to make even a rough estimate that would give the House some idea as to what this is going to cost. There is certainly one objectionable feature and that is the policy of unloading on to the local authority the full cost of this provision without any subvention from the State for the purpose. We must remember our particular economy in this country. It is to unload everything on to agriculture. This burden may be a very substantial burden. I believe that that policy is unsound and that a substantial contribution ought to be made from the State. We are continuing a policy that we have been pursuing of pushing off financial responsibility on to the local authority. Not only that, but we are taking powers to ensure that ample provision will be made. If the local authority, taking into account the economic circumstances of the times, feel that they are unable to provide for all the services, the Minister is taking power to strike the rate if the local authority is not prepared to provide an ample rate for the services that are envisaged, not merely in this Bill but in every other Act.

I should like to hear the Parliamentary Secretary making a case as to why it should be the policy to put the full responsibility of financing it on to the local authority and on to the ratepayer, making no financial provision from the State. We all agree that it is essential to make this provision for the unfortunate people who may find themselves incarcerated or, at least, prevented from pursuing their normal activities because they may be a source of infection, or who find themselves in an institution because they are suffering from an infectious disease, but it is most unfair and unjust to throw the financing of that on to the local authority, and I would submit that at least 50 per cent. of the cost should be provided by the State.

I welcome the idea and the principles outlined in this section. I am very glad that the Government are going to provide for patients suffering from tuberculosis and other infectious diseases who are prevented from carrying on their work. Some time ago I raised that point in connection with tuberculosis patients in sanatoria. I referred to the fact that they were liable for the rent of their homes, that there was no means of granting them support, and that in many cases evictions were threatened where arrears of rent had accumulated. I agitated for a measure something along these lines. But I did think that the Government would be gracious enough, in introducing such a measure, to pay at least half the cost out of national funds. The Government has all the methods of raising money by taxation. They have luxury industries to tax. Under this Bill the entire cost is being put on to the local authority. Take the case of some small local authority in an area where there is a small population. The rates may be 25/- in the £. That area may be depending upon visitors. An epidemic breaks out and a certain number of people are unable to earn their living as a result of that epidemic, and the local authority is called upon to sustain them. Is it not possible that that might bankrupt the local authority? I think the Government should contribute to the cost from national funds and that they should make a substantial grant towards every person who is rendered incapable of earning his living as a result of infectious disease.

I join with Deputy Hughes in saying that the Government of late have taken on to themselves power to shoulder off, as it were, all responsibility on to the local authority and to make the local ratepayer pay what should be paid out of national funds. Recently, under this Bill, the Minister has been responsible for increasing the rates of the City of Dublin. He has made a demand for payment for patients who have to get hospital treatment in the city. For a little while there was an outcry in the Press and on the part of various organisations against the Minister's demand for this purpose and the people who complained held that the hospital treatment should be paid for out of the Exchequer, if it had to be paid for. Little did they know that when he accepted 1/- in the rates for Dublin City, he only took it as part payment and that he has held out for, and has power under the Bill to compel the ratepayers to give him, the other 9d. he says he wants. When is it going to cease? When is he going to stop putting on the local ratepayers all the expense involved in measures that he introduces and which he calls Government measures, making it appear that the Government is introducing great social reforms while at the same time making the local ratepayer, in some cases of distressed areas, pay the cost? Under this section, unless the Government give a grant towards the upkeep of the patient and his family while he is suffering from infectious disease, I say that any small town depending upon visitors will be faced with the complete and full expense of paying for the persons affected in the case of epidemic. It is proper and right, and I give my full and wholehearted support to the idea, that these persons should be maintained but I do think that the Government should accept their share of the responsibility. If in some town, through overcrowding, an epidemic occurs, it would be grossly unfair—I am glad to see the Parliamentary Secretary enjoying a good laugh.

It was not at the Deputy.

Continue to enjoy your laugh. Your friends in the Lobby, belonging to your own Party, criticise you for your laughing methods when somebody is putting forward a case. It is a pity they do not tell you how objectionable it is to have to look at you laughing when some serious point is being put across.

Deputy, the amendment.

It is not your opponents who criticise. It is your own Party members who have complained about your attitude.

To the Deputy, I presume?

I want to continue, now that I have drawn attention to the fact that you enjoy a good laugh, even at a point where you should not laugh at all.

Too bad.

I now revert to the point I was making to you, Sir, that some towns, because of their position, may escape epidemics for years, while other small towns may suffer because of their situation or because of bad drainage. If the citizens of those small towns are rendered incapable of earning their living, I do not think they should have to shoulder all the responsibility.

I put it to every member of the House that the Government ought to pay where infectious disease breaks out and renders people incapable of work. Members should support the idea that the Government should pay its share of the maintenance cost.

In some peculiar way, we seem to have all wandered away from the amendment. We are now discussing the section. I think it was the Parliamentary Secretary who, after calling for an audience, diverted this discussion to the section. Other Deputies have followed his bad example. I am optimistic enough to believe that, when the Parliamentary Secretary gets up to reply to the observations made with regard to the financing of this section, he will calmly announce——

We must get back to the rules of order. The question of finance does not enter into this amendment regarding appeals.

It does not but it has been discussed for half an hour.

I am sorry to say it has.

I am optimistic enough to believe that the Parliamentary Secretary will calmly announce that it was always his intention to finance this section out of national funds; that he had no intention at any time of placing any burden on the local authorities.

It was most interesting to listen to the discussion on this amendment. Deputy Byrne thinks that nobody should have a joke to themselves in the House when he is speaking. He objected to the Dublin ratepayers having, for the first time in their history, to pay anything for their medical service.

I did not object. Let them pay their share.

It might be no harm. All the other ratepayers have been paying for the past 40 or 50 years, while Dublin citizens had their poor treated free.

That is outside the amendment.

The amendment is one by Deputy Costello regarding an appeal to a judge of the Circuit Court.

No; it is the amendment before that.

Amendment No. 163.

Deputy Mulcahy wants an appeal to the District Court on sub-section (4) as to the amount, if any, that should be provided by the local authority. I do not think that it would be possible to put that amendment into operation. The question around which the discussion has ranged is: who should pay for the provision to be made under this section? We are all agreed that somebody should pay if the bread winner of a family is incapable of supporting them.

Only if he has infectious disease.

He could have tuberculosis, or whooping cough or scarlatina or a hundred other diseases which are only slightly infectious. Whoever may have to pay, I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that the section, as drawn, is open to a great deal of abuse. I do not want to see the local authority paying the full cost of this provision. At the moment, the State pays 50 per cent. of public health costs. This Bill is entitled a Public Health Bill and I assume that, when it becomes law, at least 50 per cent. of the cost will be reimbursed to the local authorities.

Not under this section. Do not fall into that trap.

I am hoping that it will. I hope to persuade the Parliamentary Secretary that the local authority is entitled, even under this section, to be reimbursed to the extent of 50 per cent. of the outlay, if not more. I agree with other Deputies who say that if this impost be placed on local taxation, it may be very serious. I can see many loop-holes which would enable persons to draw, with very small reason, moneys from the local authorities or from the State under this section. I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary tighten up the section considerably. Paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) refers to precautions to be taken in relation to the infection. Are those voluntary precautions that an individual may take?

No, the precautions required by the Act.

I assume, therefore, that the county medical officer of health will notify the person concerned that it is necessary to take precautions.

I suggest that somebody should notify him and that the local authority should also be notified that it was deemed necessary that this particular person should take precautions. Otherwise, this provision will be open to grave abuse. I can visualise many persons drawing maintenance allowance under this section who would not be entitled to draw it at all. The House is well aware that there are large numbers of the community who are watching out for things such as this so as to be able to draw maintenance moneys without doing any work. It will be another way of getting unemployment assistance unless the section is drawn far more tightly than it is at present. From the point of view of local or State revenue, this is a serious matter. I rose to suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that the State should contribute, and contribute appreciably, to the cost of operating this section.

The question of contribution does not arise on this amendment.

It arises on the section as a whole.

We are not dealing with the section. What is before us at the moment is a specific amendment.

Sub-section (4) deals with maintenance.

The amendment we are considering deals with an appeal as to the amount and the need of the provision.

On a point of order, I suggest that Deputy Allen's remarks are of vital importance in relation to sub-section (4) and to the appeal. I should like to direct the attention of Deputy Allen to the new sub-section (3) in Section 19, which says:—

"A person who knows he is a probable source of infection with infectious disease shall not expose himself in any street, public place, club, hotel or shop."

He cannot go outside his door to go to work under that provision. There is no provision by which he is to notify anybody that he is staying at home or by which he is to get notice from anybody that he is to stay at home. The law is there and he has to obey it. If there is a doubt as to whether a person affected by the new sub-section (3) of Section 19 is going to get compensation unless he produces a notice from somebody, then what Deputy Allen is raising is in order and to the point.

The amendment is the Deputy's own and it is very limited.

There is only one word in it, but it has vital and widespread implications.

The question is whether an appeal could be made. It is connected with sub-section (4).

Sub-section (4) deals with a doubt, dispute or a question as to whether provision will be made under this Section 34, or whether it is adequate. An appeal is arranged for to the Minister and an appeal is asked for to the district justice. Every one of the things that might affect whether there is going to be assistance given or not is very much open for discussion when we are deciding whether it is the Minister or the District Court should decide the matter.

I would be very much opposed to the amendment, because I do not think it would be a proper method of deciding that matter. It would be too cumbersome a way of deciding whether an individual was entitled to be maintained or not.

Deciding a dispute.

I doubt if the District Court would be the right and proper authority to decide a dispute in regard to that matter. It would be wrong to bring such a case into that court. The District Court would not be suitable for the purpose at all. As to the whole principle of the section, and how the money should be provided and everything else, it would look to me to be a matter for some scheme of social insurance to provide a fund to cover that, to add, say, to the National Health Insurance Fund, or some such fund as that. I want again to stress the fact that I am afraid that this section, without reference to the amendment, is open to grave abuse unless it can be more tightly drawn than it is and provides different machinery from what is contained in it.

I am glad that Deputy Allen at least agrees with me that the section is open to abuse. I said some time ago that that was one of the reasons I objected to it—that probably it would be abused and that people would be getting compensation from the rates who were not entitled to it. The speeches which have been made have made the case for the amendment more clear than it was originally. The Parliamentary Secretary opened up the section and I think the Ceann Comhairle said we might discuss the section in connection with the amendment. The Parliamentary Secretary debated it to a certain extent and he has been followed by other Deputies. The Parliamentary Secretary said that he could give no possible estimate as to what the cost would be under this section; that it would be impossible to make an estimate of what the cost to the ratepayers would be.

Many of us agree with Deputy Allen that one of the real criticisms that could be levelled at this measure is the absence of sufficient contribution from the central authority. Much of the criticism that has been offered during the discussion on the measure would not be offered if there had been some provision made in that respect. Certainly there would not have been all the criticism that has been offered to this section. I am quite sure that if there was provision made by the Government to provide the whole or part of the cost under this particular section, which will be one of the most costly sections in the Bill, the Parliamentary Secretary would come to the House prepared to make some estimate, because I cannot imagine the Minister for Finance, who would then be responsible for the provision of some of the cost of the measure, agreeing to such an open section as this without some computation of the ultimate cost. The Parliamentary Secretary would in that case have come before the House with at least some estimate of what the cost would be on the State. But, because the unfortunate ratepayers have to shoulder the whole of the bill, the Parliamentary Secretary does not care what it costs or is not prepared to make any estimate of the cost, because it does not concern him.

Deputies on all sides of the House are the sole protection the ratepayers have in this case against the eventual infliction of whatever burden the Government like to put upon them. There is no other protection for them. The ordinary county councillor has no power whatever under recent legislation to protect the ratepayers in any one instance or to take off any of the cost which will be inflicted on them. The sole protection that the ratepayers have now are Deputies who will have to take what care they can that in future legislation as little as possible of the cost will fall on the ratepayers. It is because in this measure we see injustice done to the ratepayers that we are opposed to the various sections and this section in particular. That is what makes this amendment more vital than it would be in other circumstances. As I said, the Parliamentary Secretary has no liability for the cost under this section. He has not the same interest to see that it is less costly as he would have if the Minister for Finance was concerned in the matter. Because the ratepayers have to bear the cost, the Parliamentary Secretary has not the same interest in it. Therefore, it is left to Deputies to do what they can to protect the ratepayers.

As Deputy Allen says, this section is open to grave abuse. Deputy Keyes made another point on behalf of the applicants that they might not get sufficient compensation. Other Deputies put forward other arguments. I follow Deputy Allen in saying that it is open to grave abuse—that people may get compensation under this section who would not be entitled to it. We might be facing an election and some friends of the Minister's Party might be getting compensation under this Bill, or our Party, if we were the Government. The section might be open to terrible abuse. It might be abused in 101 ways in order to give certain privileges to certain people. I am not saying that that will happen, but it could happen.

The Deputy should not be looking at the Farmers' Party.

It is open to innumerable possibilities of abuse. That being so, I do not see any reason why there should not be an ultimate appeal from the decision of the Minister. The Minister has not to foot the bill. The ratepayers have to foot the bill and we have to protect them, because they have no other protection. I think that no objection can be made to the proposal to have an appeal from the decision of the Minister.

So far as I understood it, Deputy Allen's sole objection to the amendment is that the District Court would be too cumbersome. I am surprised that a person like Deputy Allen, who knows the workings of the Custom House, should suggest even for a moment——

I know nothing about the Custom House.

The Deputy does. There are very few Deputies in this House who know more about it, both from the point of view of a Deputy and from the point of view of a member of a local authority. He knows that he could not describe it as less cumbersome than a District Court.

Do not be laughing at a serious thing like that.

The strange thing is, and it is more than a small tribute to us, that after 11 days on this Bill and listening to the Parliamentary Secretary we are able to smile not to say to laugh. Deputy Byrne, being a simple man, wonders when the Minister is going to stop putting new burdens on the ratepayers. Surely Deputy Byrne realises that the Minister is only starting to put new burdens on the ratepayers. Surely Deputy Byrne and Deputy Allen are beginning to realise now, as the picture unfolds itself and as we get it into proper focus, what the position is going to be like.

You saw it for years.

There is a new scheme and apparently the only member of the Fianna Fáil Party who had any knowledge of it beforehand was Deputy J. S. O'Connor when he warned the corporation and the ratepayers of Dublin that the rates would soon reach 30/- in the £. I was wondering where Deputy O'Connor got his information. Now we know. He had apparently more information about the Bill than Deputy Allen and many others.

The Bill has been circulated for three months.

Although it has been circulated for three months, Deputy Allen hopes, notwithstanding the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary has bluntly told us that the local authority will have to bear all the cost of this provision, that half of it will be borne by the Government. The fact of the matter is that it is a completely new departure. We are now beginning to see the scheme. The Parliamentary Secretary refused to give us any idea of the cost to the local authority. The Taoiseach in the Seanad yesterday evening refused to give a picture of what was meant by the public health scheme. They do not want to give it but it is emerging and the reason for the introduction of the Local Government Bill, which is suspended at the moment, is clearly seen when we come to this Bill. The Local Government Bill is the steam-hammer which the Parliamentary Secretary is going to use to ram the cost of this measure down the throats of the ratepayers.

Of course the Parliamentary Secretary is not concerned with how much this will cost, not a bit of it, but the ratepayers are or ought to be. Remember, when we are talking about ratepayers we should not suffer under the old illusion that nobody pays rates except people who can afford to pay— property owners or people in receipt of fairly decent wages or salaries. Remember the poorest person in the country either directly, or indirectly through his rent, pays rates whether he is living in a three-roomed cottage or in a one-roomed tenement. The difference between rates and taxes is that they do not pay taxes if they do not purchase taxable commodities but if they occupy any buildings at all, they have to pay rates.

There is a lot of people not paying rates who could afford to pay them.

I am not talking about the person who can afford to pay rates and does not pay them. If that is the position in the Deputy's county, then the county council is not operating effectively.

There is a lot of people who are not liable for any rates.

Would the Deputy tell us where they are?

Why is the Government excluding them from taxation under this Bill?

I know that the particular class who are not liable for rates will not be very much affected by this section, but why should this cost not be borne by the State? Deputy Allen very properly drew attention to the fact that there might be certain abuses under the section as it is drawn. He went further and suggested that the section as conceived is wrong, that it should be conceived on a different basis, some sort of scheme of social insurance. This is what we are offered instead of the scheme of social insurance which was put before us and which was spurned by the Government. This is part of the alternative to the scheme of social insurance. Does the Deputy question that? Of course, the Deputy may have more inside knowledge than I have; he probably has, but that is the situation as I see it. I can see very good reason for having any doubt or dispute as to whether any compensation should be paid, and if so, how much, decided by the District Court rather than by the Minister.

I would not have either of them.

Then you would have no appeal?

I would leave it to the local authority.

That is to the county manager. The era of the State managerial system.

Who started the managerial system? Deputy Mulcahy.

Tá i bhfad níos mo eolais agan dTeacta na mar a leigeann se air.

Mind you, I will say that the managerial system was not very acceptable to Deputies on the opposite side when it was first introduced, but when it did become acceptable to them, they changed it so much that whoever introduced it would not recognise it now as his own child. By the time this Bill and the Local Government Bill are through, no member of the staff in the Custom House will be more under the thumb of the Minister than the county manager. The county manager may not be working in the Custom House but he will be just as much under the thumb of the Minister as any civil servant in the Custom House. Deputy Allen said he wanted this matter to be left in the hands of the local authority, but the local authority is the county manager for the purposes of this Act. I am pointing out to the Deputy that the county manager, according to the Deputy, is to decide the amounts of these claims and if there is any dispute he is to decide the dispute also.

The Deputy wants the district justice to decide.

I do and I shall tell the Deputy my reason. The district justice is there to dispense justice on the facts as placed before him. I have the feeling that the district justice will have as much knowledge of local conditions, of human nature, and perhaps of the cost of living, as much knowledge of the social and economic conditions of different grades of people which is something which will have to be taken into consideration, as the Minister or any official in the Custom House. Let us take the case of a poor widow woman with a family who has to be isolated. During that period some person will have to be employed to look after the family. Surely, in a case like that there would be a very big difference as between an appeal from the county manager to the Minister and the right of appeal to the court. If she is left in the position that she can appeal only to the Minister, how is she to present her case? If she has the right of appeal to the court, she can more easily make arrangements to have the appeal brought and can be certain that her case before the district justice will be as well presented as the local authority case.

How will she get to court if she is isolated?

She can be represented by a solicitor.

Or by the secretary of a Fianna Fáil Cumann.

I am not going to say whether she would expect to get justice in the court if her case were presented to it by the secretary of a Fianna Fáil Cumann. Deputy Flanagan knows more about Fianna Fáil club secretaries than I do. He can speak from personal experience. Anyway, passing from that, Deputy Allen, while he does not agree with the amendment, is against it for one reason, that it is too cumbersome. I want to come back to another point. From the very start of this Bill, since we had the Money Resolution before us, we on this side have tried time and time again to get an approximate idea of what this measure is going to cost when put into operation. We have been refused that information. All that the Parliamentary Secretary has told us is that the mother and child service under the scheme of the Bill will cost between £500,000 and £600,000, 50 per cent. of which is to be paid by the local authorities. Why can we not be told what the approximate cost is going to be? This measure is going to put a very heavy burden on the ratepayers, the size of which cannot be measured even by the man who is sponsoring it.

The Deputy knows that that will depend on the incidence of isolation, and that, therefore, it is impossible to give the estimate.

The House is being asked to place this additional burden on the backs of the ratepayers, and yet the size of it cannot be measured by the man who conceived the measure. The Parliamentary Secretary is not only taking power to fix responsibility for payment by local authorities, but as regards a doubt in the payment of compensation, he is taking power to defeat an appeal, and to ensure that his own decision shall be absolutely final. We are dealing here not only with cases of infectious disease but with a new class—people suspected by the local medical officer of being a probable source of infection. That provision not only widens the Bill immensely but also the cost that is likely to fall on the ratepayers.

As regards the mother and child scheme, 50 per cent. of the cost of which is going to be placed on the local authorities, that will represent an increase of 4 per cent. on the rates of the country. We do not know whether the particular section we are discussing may not add another 2, 4, 5, 6 or 10 per cent. to the rates. Deputies are aware, of course, that the members of the local bodies will have no choice in the matter of making provision in the local rates for these increases. They must make that provision. So far as the Dublin Corporation, the Wexford County Council, the Tipperary County Council, and all other public bodies are concerned, the members of them might as well be standing below at O'Connell Bridge, and would be just as effective there, as they will be as members of their respective bodies when this Bill becomes an Act, because, irrespective of what they may think, the Minister will have power under the Act to enforce every section and sub-section of it. I, at any rate, am not prepared to give to any Minister a blank cheque to be drawn on by him for any amount that he thinks necessary on the ratepayers of this country. The proposal in this Bill represents a revolutionary change. I do not think the House should give the Parliamentary Secretary the power he is seeking.

I just want to point out that Deputy Allen has made a very strong case for this amendment. He has drawn a picture of the conditions which can arise when the section is put into operation. It was this, that people will be deliberately seeking to contract infectious diseases. If that is so, then anyone who has the germs or the virus of an infectious disease to distribute will be in the big money. If Deputy Allen's forecast is correct, the germs of an infectious disease will be more valuable perhaps than petrol coupons. I suggest there is a very strong case for referring this whole matter to the courts to decide whether people are deliberately seeking to become infected or not. Anyhow, I think there is an unanswerable case both from the point of view of the person infected and of the local authority for going into court, and having the matter fairly decided.

Deputy Allen also drew attention to the fact that the burden on the ratepayers is inequitably distributed. I have drawn attention so often to that fact myself that my doing so has become rather hackneyed. I have been asserting that during the last seven years in this House, and I am glad that I have at least made one convert amongst the Fianna Fáil Party. I think that the Parliamentary Secretary should, before Deputy Allen and the House bring stronger pressure to bear on him, gracefully accept the amendment.

It would be better for us, I think, to finish this amendment to-night, so that in the morning we may be able to have a good look at the whole picture as it will then be disclosed to us. Deputy Allen spoke about the necessity of a social security policy. I pointed out on the Second Reading of this measure that it was introduced for the purpose of stymieing such a social security policy as the Bishop of Clonfert had outlined in his famous memorandum.

I did not mention policy. I mentioned insurance.

At any rate, the fact is that the Deputy is looking for something that we are looking for. What is this Bill but a deliberate attempt to prevent any kind of a sensible, organised social insurance policy for this State.

Both Deputy Allen and the Parliamentary Secretary are stubbornly opposed to my amendment and are of the opinion that where a doubt or dispute arises as to whether adequate compensation is being given under this section, the Minister should be the final and only court of appeal. In view of the position towards which we are moving, a position which his majority will decide—that the Minister shall be the final court in the matter— I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to say what will be the process for deciding appeals which may come before him.

I presume a brief reply will satisfy the Deputy. If and when this section becomes operative and the Minister becomes the final court of appeal, the Minister will have to have schedules drawn up which will apply to the different sets of circumstances, so far as it will be possible to arrange standards in advance. These standards will be only a general guide. They will have to be flexible to meet the varying types of circumstances to which I have referred earlier to-night. I think there will be a disposition to treat the allowances more or less on the basis of home assistance scales.

Such allowances as are given under the Public Assistance Act would not meet the requirements of this Act, and it may be assumed—I do not want to hide from the House any information at my disposal, nor do I want to withhold from the House my own opinion on any of these matters—that, when this section comes into full operation, it will involve a heavy burden on the rates. Deputies appreciate that, but of course a matter like this has to be debated, even though you may not have a lot of confidence in the arguments you are putting forward, and it is quite a good thing that it should be discussed. I have no objection to that, nor have I any criticism to offer with regard to it, but it is not possible to make any estimate——

Hold on. Could we stick to the machinery of appeal and deal with the other point tomorrow?

I have stated already that I believe the Minister is the best court of appeal. Most of the labours of his officers and staffs are intimately associated with social conditions and health conditions, and I believe the Minister will have specialised knowledge and wide experience available to him, which will not be available to the ordinary justice of the District Court. I further believe that if such cases were to be referred to the District Courts and to be decided there, the present staff of district justices, even if they did nothing else, would not be capable of dealing with the appeals in the time at their disposal. I believe it will involve a considerable increase in administrative staffs.

What will the staffs be doing?

There will have to be in the Department an appeals section somewhat on the model of the old age pensions appeal section, but I would anticipate that, as standards come to be accepted and recognised, in the course of a year or two, the appeals will get fewer and fewer, and, in a reasonably short time, we would reach a stage at which the volume of appeals would be small. That is my conception of the position and on this particular issue I cannot be of any further assistance.

I take it that what the Parliamentary Secretary has in mind when he talks about difficulties of getting standards set up are the economic circumstances of the applicant, the question of whether he is earning anything at all or is merely existing on national health insurance and who contracts a disease which subsequently develops into something which brings him under the section—a person who is in receipt of unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit, or a person working and receiving a wage of 39/- or 45/- a week and having a family of three, five or six—and that therefore practically all the amounts awarded as compensation by the various local authorities will, in the first instance, vary.

One local authority will perhaps, as the Parliamentary Secretary says, look upon this as something to be met on a home assistance standard or something above it, while another will be inclined to treat it on the basis of the maximum benefit payable under national health insurance and another will approach it on the basis that the compensation to a worker, assuming he is a working man, who is prohibited from going to work and earning wages, should be on the basis of the wages he had been in receipt of for whatever period is taken as the standard. That begins to frighten me, because I am beginning to wonder how long it may be before some of these appeals will be determined. I am not now suggesting that there will be any avoidable delay in the Department.

While it might take time to decide appeals, and the time it will take will depend on the volume of the appeals, the initial award will continue, pending a decision on the appeal.

Quite, but remember that the initial award may be totally inadequate, and it is from that point of view that I am mainly concerned as to the machinery to be set up to determine the appeal. The award may be totally inadequate. A young family may be depending entirely on the amount awarded, and it may vary. I am trying fully to appreciate the difficulties which will arise and the various problems which will have to be resolved. It seems to me to be a much more difficult matter than even the appeals section of the Department which deals with old age pensions, because in that case there are certain well-established standards, certain maximum and minimum benefits, and so on. Here you have to create all your standards and get them established, and even when they have been created and established, I am not inclined to agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that the number of appeals will diminish over the first year or two as rapidly as he contemplates, because I think that inevitably, arising out of the circumstances covered by this Bill and particularly by these sections, new positions involving new cases will arise. It seems to me to be a position which requires a good deal more consideration before we come to a final decision on the section.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 164:—

In sub-section (4), line 53, after the word "final" to add the words "but subject to an appeal to a judge of the Circuit Court in which such person resides".

I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again on Friday, 5th April.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m., until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 5th April, 1946.