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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 11 Jun 1947

Vol. 106 No. 13

Health Bill, 1947 — Committee (Resumed).

I move amendment No. 14:—

Before Section 21 to insert the following new section:—

(1) This section shall apply and have effect only in any county or county borough as respects which an Order made under sub-section (2) of this section is for the time being in force.

(2) The Minister may by Order declare this section to be in force and have effect in counties or county boroughs generally or in a particular county or county borough.

(3) Where the Minister makes an Order under sub-section (2) of this section, he shall cause to be published in one or more newspapers circulating in the county or county borough to which the Order relates notice of the effect of such Order and of the date on which it will come into operation.

(4) Whenever a medical inspection is arranged under this Act for a child, whether at his home or at any other place, and the parent of such child is made aware of the time and place at which such inspection is to be held, the parent shall submit the child to such inspection unless an exemption from the inspection has been granted under sub-section (5) of this section.

(5) The medical officer having charge of the arrangements for a medical inspection provided under this Act shall grant an exemption in the prescribed form from the inspection in respect of any child in relation to whom there is produced to such officer a certificate in the prescribed form signed by a registered medical practitioner stating that he has examined the child within the prescribed period preceding the inspection.

(6) A person who contravenes sub-section (4) of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof, in the case of a first offence, to a fine not exceeding five pounds, or, in the case of a second or any subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.

(7) Every person who in connection with an application for an exemption under sub-section (5) of this section makes any statement which is to his knowledge false or misleading in any material respect shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds.

(8) An offence under this section may be prosecuted by the health authority who provided the medical inspection.

This is a redraft of Section 21, which provides for the compulsory examination of children. It is changed now from what it was in the original Bill. The Minister may apply it to the whole country or to a county or to a number of counties, or he may not apply it, as the case may be. When the Order is made, parents are then responsible for submitting their children for examination. Sub-section (5) gives power for exemption where the parent submits a medical certificate saying that the child has been examined by another medical man. The child is not then subject to compulsory examination. Then there are the usual penalty clauses.

What is this?

This is a Ministerial amendment and there is an amendment to it by Deputy Mulcahy— amendment No. 15.

This is a proposal to substitute a new section for a section that is in the Bill. I do not think there is any substantial difference in principle so far as the new section and the old section are concerned. There is the same compulsion in this as that which is implied in Section 21 in the Bill.

No. The principle is changed to this extent, that, as the original section stood, it became obligatory on parents to submit their children for examination. That does not come into operation now until the Minister makes an Order either for the whole country or for individual counties.

There is the same idea of compulsion, and there is no change in principle where the section is put into operation. There is no difference in principle as between the new draft and the old section. If that is so, I have no objection, for the purposes of orderly discussion, of accepting amendment No. 14 to replace Section 21. We can then begin the discussion on the general principle.

If the amendment is accepted, we can debate the section as amended.

I take it that, from the point of view of order, if amendment No. 14 is accepted and replaces Section 21 in the Bill, and that as soon as my amendment to the new Section 21 is disposed of, the new Section 21 will be open for discussion?

Yes. Would the Deputy move amendment No. 15? The position is that there is an amendment to an amendment, which should be moved.

Then we are accepting amendment No. 14 for the purposes of drafting. I move amendment No. 15:—

To delete all words after the word "exemption" in the third line of sub-section (5) and substitute therefor the words "in respect of any child in relation to whom there is produced to such officer a certificate by a medical practitioner that the child is under his general care and supervision."

Previously I had amendments to Sections 19 and 20, in which I objected to compulsion in respect of the medical inspection, medical treatment and medical education of children without the consent of the parents. It was suggested when we were discussing that matter, that we should have an opportunity of discussing that on this later section. I do not know if that is suitably covered by the amendment I have proposed, but I would like to discuss the general question of compulsion in relation to my amendment.

That is, the obligation to submit children to medical inspection.

Section 21, as it will now appear, provides that where medical inspection of school children— or children, perhaps, whether they are school children or not—is ordered, the parent shall submit the child for such inspection unless an exemption from inspection has been granted under a particular sub-section. The exemption that is here provided for is that there is produced a certificate in the prescribed form signed by a registered practitioner stating that he has examined the child within the prescribed period preceding the inspection. If the Minister accepts my amendment, these words will be deleted and exemption will be granted in respect of any child in relation to whom there is produced to such an officer a certificate by a medical practitioner that the child is under his general care and supervision.

I drew attention yesterday to Articles 41 and 42 of the Constitution. Article 41 states:

"1º The State recognises the family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.

2º The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the nation and the State."

Article 42 follows and says:—

"1. The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children."

We must stand over the principle that is enshrined there, which is that under the natural law it is the family and not the State which is charged with the duty of promoting the well-being of its members. While the State assists the family, where necessary, to carry out that duty, it must be careful to respect the autonomy of the family and if there is failure to do that, there can be nothing but material and moral deterioration for the family in the country.

The amendment moved here does not go the whole way in safeguarding the position as my amendments Nos. 11 and 12, if they were properly applicable to Sections 19 and 20, would go. I submit to the Minister that it is undesirable that the State should dictate to a parent that his child should be examined, whether by a doctor belonging to a State medical service or by the family doctor. It is going very far when the State undertakes to require from the family a certificate that the child is in the care of a general medical practitioner. I do not know whether that is not going even a bit too far, but it is put against a proposal contained in Section 21 by the Minister that he would require that in the prescribed form a certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner should be presented from time to time that he had examined the child within the prescribed period. I think that should be deleted and that it should be sufficient, if any certificate is required, that a certificate would be given by a medical practitioner that, in the words of my amendment, "the child is under his general care and supervision".

May I respectfully press the Leader of the Opposition that, if his amendment is accepted, he will lose the whole principle? If we admit the right of the State to go to the parents and say that the State takes over responsibility for the general maintenance of the child's health, we thereby admit the right of the State to set the parent aside. It does not matter how you limit the extent to which the State does that by law, as if we once consent to the enactment of a law which violates a fundamental principle, we may persuade this Minister by law to restrict the extent of his incursion on the principle, but we have no guarantee that on some future occasion the Minister will not come in and say: "The incursion to which I restricted myself in the original Bill has proved to be insufficient for my purpose and I propose now to go further; once my right to cross the Rubicon at all has been admitted, it has become a matter of simple expediency as to how far I should penetrate into the hinterland."

Surely the fundamental principle here at stake is this: has a civil servant the right to come into my house and say to me: "Submit your child to a doctor of whom I approve or go to jail." Whatever law is passed by this House, if any civil servant comes into my house on that mission, I will throw him out. I will throw him out and cheerfully take the consequences of that course. If the Government of this or any other country claims the right to take over from parents the day-to-day care of their own children, in the absence of any evidence whatever of negligence of a character which would raise a presumption of criminal misfeasance or non-feasance on the part of the parent, then Article 41 of the Constitution is the purest "cod." Article 41 states:—

"The State recognises the family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law."

What are these rights? Is there any Deputy who will deny that one right of parents, as ordained by God, is to rear their own children? Does not the rearing of your children clearly include the provision of food, clothing and protection from harm? How then can you make it a criminal offence if parents, in the exercise of their absolute discretion, for the protection of their children's welfare, choose to say: "My child has not been examined by a general practitioner, and, in my judgment, no necessity for such an examination arises." In the absence of any prima facie proof that the child stands in need of medical attention, in the absence of any prima facie case that the child is suffering from an infectious disease and may therefore be a menace to its fellow-citizens as a result of contagion or infection, the State says: “We are determined to see that the child is examined. If you make any effort to prevent that examination, we shall impose a fine upon you, and, if you do not pay the fine, you will go to jail”.

I am not in the least solicitous that the necessity for testing this matter by throwing a civil servant out of my house will ever arise, because I am convinced that, if this section stands in its present form, the whole Bill will be condemned by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional; but what concerns me is that, week after week, we should be appearing in this House to fight attempts to enact legislation which encroaches upon the Constitution. What has gone wrong with the Executive in this country? Has their whole instinct for rights and duties become warped by the length of time for which they have been in office? Can you conceive any rational body of men in this country, until very recently, claiming the right to walk into a man's home and have his children examined, just for the sake of uniformity?

Has nobody adverted to the fact that there may be Christian Scientists in this country who have a conscientious scruple in this matter? I have no sympathy with Christian Science. I do not understand the mentality which regards it as a matter of religious belief that you should not consult doctors, or have any dealings with medicine, but the fact that I do not understand it and do not sympathise with it is no reason why I should disregard it. There are plenty of people who have persuaded themselves that their own best interests can be served by eschewing medicine. I agree that if, in the presence of infectious disease, a group of persons persist in that course and claim the right in pursuit of their belief to disregard all precautions of segregation which are essential for the protection of their neighbours, it becomes the duty of the Oireachtas to wage the rights of society as a whole against the particular rights of the family unit, and, if the claims of the community for protection from the danger of infection clearly outweigh those of the family to have absolute dominion within its own family circle, I believe the Oireachtas is justified in asserting the superior right against the lesser.

But the section we are considering has no relation to infectious diseases. That whole matter was dealt with in another part of the Bill. This section envisages the whole juvenile population of the country, whatever the religious beliefs of their parents may be, whatever their conscientious scruples and whatever their rational convictions are. If we leave religious belief and scruple on one side and consider only the right of two rational citizens who have conferred upon one another the Sacrament of Matrimony and have undertaken to raise a family in accordance with the law of God, under the rights thereby acquired, to determine that they do not choose to have their children examined by a physician, I deny the right of this Parliament or any other power in this State arbitrarily to declare that these children will be examined, whether their parents wish it or not.

I respectfully submit to the Leader of the Opposition that if we yield a fraction of an inch on that Rubicon, the whole position of those who object to this becomes utterly untenable. Either the matter is one of fundamental principle or it is not. If it is a matter of expediency, our view, as laymen, cannot hope to prevail against the assembled so-called expert opinion of medical interests and bureaucrats. For my own part I absolutely stand upon the Rubicon that there is no power in any authority in this State arbitrarily to announce that, whether the parents of children wish it or not, servants or agents of the State will examine, and that, in the event of the parents asserting their inalienable and imprescriptible right, antecedent and superior to all positive law, the State will proceed to fine them and, if necessary, imprison them. You may enact that section until the cows come home, but you will never enforce it. Happily every freedom-loving citizen of this State was refreshed and strengthened by the trechant terms of the judgment of the President of the High Court delivered yesterday.

I imagine that that matter is sub judice.

No, we have been fixed with no notice that there is any intention to proceed further. We have now a conclusive decision of the High Court and, unless and until the public are informed that further steps are contemplated——

It is not in this section in any case.

In my respectful submission, Sir, it is at the very root of it. It was a splendid, clear and trenchant defence of the inalienable rights of our people that no action of any slavish majority in this House can take away. Those who thought that time was wasted and effort vainly spent in fighting for these things in this House were proved wrong. The fight that was made in defence of those things, albeit seemingly lost in Oireachtas Éireann, providentially has been won in another arena. I submit with respect, Sir, that our circumstances with regard to this section are identical.

Will the Deputy deal with the section now?

We are fighting for something fundamental—the right of parents to rear their own children. We are fighting for that principle in the knowledge that if in any particular, however small, we yield and consent to its being abrogated, we open the gates to an avalanche. It is a comfort to know that, although some docile majority will carry the section in this House, there in another arena where it cannot hope to survive. But, remember, that if time and time again, week after week, the legislation of this House is brought before the courts and condemned as being an attempt to destroy fundamental principles of our people, the faith of our people in this Legislature will be gravely shaken. It should not happen, except by inadvertence, that legislation of this House should conflict with the provisions of the Constitution. One of our duties on this side of the House is to ensure that that inadvertence will never be validly pleaded. No one could suggest that on the last occasion inadvertence was the cause of the Government's astonishing performance. I do not want anyone to have it to say in this case that inadvertence should be the Minister's justification if he insists on this section.

On the last occasion when the matter of principle arose I made this suggestion. If, from the point of view of the Government, this is merely a matter of expediency, and if they are satisfied in their own minds that, from the point of view of rational people on this side of the House, a fundamental principle is involved, it is the very essence of democracy for the Executive, supported by its majority, to say: "Although we have the right and the power to make our view prevail, where principle collides with expediency we prefer to allow those who are concerned on principle to prevail against us, albeit we think their solicitude is mistaken".

If the Minister thinks that I am talking with my tongue in my cheek, of course he should press forward and insist on his own section or the section as it is suggested by the Leader of the Opposition it should be amended. If, on the other hand, he feels that there are people on this side of the House who think that this is a matter of great principle, all I ask is that he should take the section back and say: "I will re-examine it". All I want is to see that the best that can be done to protect the children of this State from ill-health or neglect is being done and will continue to be done, and it is merely a matter of working out a system which will secure that without depriving anybody of the rights to which they attach fundamental importance.

I am not alleging, and I do not want to be taken at this stage as alleging that the Minister for Health was actuated by any dark motive or conspiratorial intent when he brought the section before the House. It may well be that, with the multiplicity of matters which the several Ministries he holds require him to study, this section has been taken from some other analogous statute and simply brought forward as a matter of form. If so, that is very understandable and here is the occasion to correct it in order to meet the views of those who feel deeply about it. We need engender no heat or misunderstanding. If the matter is met in that spirit, I will most gladly collaborate in any way I can to achieve the end the Minister has in view without the error which I detect in the section as it stands at present. I most earnestly urge on the Minister that he should examine the matter from the point of view which I have expressed in order to ensure that, in so far as may be practicable, this public health measure, which in principle is approved by all sides of the House, may in detail command substantially the same volume of support.

I should like to clear Deputy Dillon's mind of the disturbing cloud of doubt that I am not fully awake to the responsibility on us to safeguard the principles enshrined in Articles 41 and 42 of the Constitution. I spoke of them last night and I spoke of them here again to-day. In approaching this Bill for the purpose of safeguarding these principles, my amendments Nos. 11 and 12, together with amendments Nos. 15, 16 and 17 were, I thought, the most effective way in which the principles to be safeguarded would be safeguarded.

I quite agree.

If the Deputy were here last night he would have heard us discuss amendments Nos. 11 and 12. The intention of these amendments of mine was that it would not be possible for any health authority to take any action for the purpose of safeguarding or improving the health or physical condition of children, or to arrange for their medical inspection at schools or any other places, or provide for their education in matters relating to health, or provide for the treatment of their illnesses or defects, or ascertain whether they were mentally deficient, without the consent of the parents.

The amendments, as drafted, after discussion here last night, did not seem to fit in at the exact point that would safeguard everything, so I withdrew them for the present and amendment No. 15 is simply carrying on the development of that idea in this way, that, if you are to have the examination of school children and the parents are to be made cognisant of that, subject to the fact that nothing will be done with regard to their children unless with their consent, the certificate which the Minister requires shall be replaced by a certificate by a medical practitioner that the child is under his general care and supervision. When that is examined, it may be found to be an unnecessary demand on the parent, but that can be discussed and considered.

As far as I know, in any house where you have children there is contact with the medical officer at some time or another. There is the general idea in Ireland of having a family doctor. If, in a discussion of the matter, we find that my amendment goes too far, then that will mean that the Ministerial amendment goes very much further.

I rose merely to make clear the point that in order to safeguard the principles of Article 41 and Article 42 of the Constitution, I drafted amendments Nos. 11, 12, 15, 16 and 17; in case, when these are faced up to on Report, the principles are not sufficiently safeguarded, I would be glad to see an amendment from Deputy Dillon which will help us to safeguard them.

I think amendments Nos. 11 and 12 substantially safeguard the matter with which I am concerned. Did the Minister give a signal that he was prepared to accept the principle?

The House cannot go back on amendments that were decided last night after hours of discussion.

Did I not understand you to say that you wished us to discuss this section as amended?

The Deputy is referring to amendments Nos. 11 and 12.

Section 21, before the holding, under Sections 19 or 20, of a medical inspection, is referred back to these two sections. The point carried over is, are all those things to be done by leave of the child's parents or nolens volens?

The question before the House is amendment No. 15.

Surely you ought to allow us to argue? The Leader of the Opposition said amendment No. 15 was put down in association with amendments Nos. 11 and 12.

But amendments Nos. 11 and 12 were discussed and decided and I will not allow the Committee to go back on them.

I do not want to discuss them. I merely make the point that amendment No. 15 is not an adequate safeguard. The Leader of the Opposition explained the position with regard to these amendments and we are to consider on Report alternative proposals to amendments Nos. 11 and 12. I then asked, has the Minister for Health indicated the Government's attitude on amendments Nos. 11 and 12?

They were discussed here and apparently they will arise again on Report. We are not on the Report Stage now.

If I may intervene for the purpose of helping. When we have finished with amendments Nos. 15, 16 and 17 to the new Section 21, it is quite possible the general question that Deputy Dillon is raising now will arise on the discussion of Section 21 itself, as amended or as it stands.

Yes, but amendments already decided will not arise.

On that point, I would like to mention that these amendments were withdrawn so as not to prejudice the matter.

And it was indicated they would arise on a subsequent stage of the Bill.

Surely it is not the ruling that, if a Deputy puts down three amendments, each one of which is consequential on the one that went before it, in discussing the third one, which is meaningless when divorced from the first and second, no reference can be made to the first and second in order to explain the third?

The Chair simply rules what has been ruled for 20 years—that in Committee a section passed may not be referred to again until the House comes to the Report Stage. That has been the ruling for 20 years. There was a debate for some hours last night. I am not objecting to the length of the debate—I do not wish to curtail it in any way—but I do not desire to have it prolonged by referring to it to-day.

I left the House at 10.12 p.m. yesterday and this matter had not been raised then, so there could not have been a debate for hours. It was not raised at 10.12 p.m. last night.

I do not wish to enter into an argument with the Deputy on a matter of order. The amendments will not be referred to until they arise on Report; we cannot go back on them now.

Will the Minister make any rejoinder to the points I have made?

We are dealing with amendment No. 15?

Yes, and when that has been dealt with the House must also decide on amendments Nos. 16 and 17 before amendment No. 14 can be put.

Deputy Dillon was referring to the section, but that does not arise at this stage.

Is not amendment No. 14 a new section?

What is before the House is amendment No. 15.

Which is an amendment to amendment No. 14?

Yes, and when we have dealt with it we will decide on amendments Nos. 16 and 17, which is the normal procedure. If an amendment to an amendment is proposed the second one must be decided before the first is put.

How am I to discuss amendment No. 15 if I can make no reference to the text to which that is supposed to be an amendment?

I did not make any such suggestion.

Amendment No. 15 is an amendment to amendment No. 14?

Then in discussing amendment No. 15 I respectfully submit. I have a right to relate it to amendment No. 14 in which it is proposed to incorporate it.

The Deputy will admit that he did so at some length and he was not pulled up by the Chair.

That is all I am claiming.

With regard to amendment No. 15, the wording of the section as it stands before this amendment was put in requires the practitioner to give a certificate that he had inspected the child. Deputy Mulcahy's amendment seeks to get the medical practitioner to say that the child has been under his care and attention. So far as I am personally concerned with the provisions of the Bill, I would not see very much objection to Deputy Mulcahy's amendment, were it not that I am afraid that the members of the medical profession themselves would object to it. This was one of the points raised when I met the Medical Consultative Council and they said that they would always refuse to take responsibility for looking after a person, that they must be free to attend a person, not in the way of a contract, but as the occasion requires. I am afraid that they would object to give such a certificate, that the child was under their care and attention. I do not think this amendment is in any way related to amendments Nos. 11 and 12 and the question could be argued on some other amendment. I would ask the Deputy to withdraw the amendment as it stands. I am not objecting to it from the point of view of the effectiveness of the Bill, but I am afraid the medical profession would not like it.

Does the Minister suggest that he is introducing a system here by which a child must be examined from time to time?

Whether by the family doctor or by the official State medical officer?

Yes. The effect of the section would be, let us say, that the inspection will be prescribed twice a year and that the medical officer of health for the district will either examine the children himself or accept a certificate from some other doctor that he has examined a particular child. That is how the matter stands.

Are we to understand that parents must in future either submit to inspection of their children by a State-appointed medical officer or that they must pay for the examination twice a year of each of their children under 16 years of age by a private medical officer?

Yes. But do not take the period of twice a year as being the legal formula. It may be three times or it may be once a year but whatever number of inspections are prescribed, parents will be obliged, where the section is put into operation, to submit their children for examination or submit a certificate that each child has been examined by another medical practitioner.

Are we in Bedlam? There is Deputy Dr. Brennan, an experienced medical officer in a rural district in Ireland, seeing families growing up around him every day of his life. How many of these families, presided over in practically every case by conscientious decent parents, get their children examined twice a year? There is Deputy Butler, an experienced man in the City of Dublin. Does he seriously suggest that he thinks it right for the State to impose on every parent in this country an obligation to have every one of his children examined twice a year or three times a year at the sweet will of a civil servant sitting in the Custom House? I can scarcely believe my ears that a proposal of that kind is made in a civilised country. Suppose we give a civil servant in the Custom House the right to say that every parent in the country must produce his child to a doctor or furnish that doctor with a certificate that he has produced his child to some other member of the profession. What difference in principle is there between that and empowering the Government to say: "Deliver your child once a year to a public health clinic where it will be carefully looked after, for an adequate examination which can only be conducted if the child can be left under observation for three days"? I dare to prophesy that a certain corollary to any power such as is here envisaged will be a claim on the part of the State that if the State-appointed medical examiner is not satisfied as to the child's state of health, physical or psychological, he will be entitled to require the parents to deposit the child in an approved clinic, there to remain for three or more days while the necessary pathological, psychological and physical examinations are carried out.

Come now. Do Deputies of this House claim that right to take our children from us and to put them in approved clinics? You know people sometimes allow themselves to be driven mad by a perverted kind of universal benevolence. And this strange thing is true. No one is more vigilant than the Labour Party against paternalism by an employer. When the representatives of organised labour see an employer heaping benefactions on his employees, claiming the right to provide them with free medical attention, free nutritional schemes and supererogations of that kind, the representatives of organised labour say: "Look here, none of that; our members want to be free independent citizens doing an honest day's work for a fair day's pay. If they get that, they want nothing else. We do not mean to be rude or ungrateful but we do not want that relationship. We prefer to know where we are—to know our obligations, our rights and our duties". I give them credit for that attitude. I think it is much better to separate business and friendship, and that the relationship of an employee and an employer should be regulated by ascertained duties and obligations on both sides. Outside that relationship there might and should be friendship, which will take the form of reciprocal giving and taking as between friends, not all giving on one side and all taking on the other. But why is it, when you substitute the State for the employer and the whole community for organised labour, that the corrupt paternalism which destroys an individual's sense of duty and capacity to do his own job, instead of being something from which an independent man must instinctively recoil, becomes something beautiful, benevolent and desirable?

I reiterate that I have no fears as to the consequences of this section, for it can never be law, but I hate the thought of this Legislature trying to make it law. I hate the idea of this Legislature wanting to make this kind of law. It is all wrong and I do not doubt that many Deputies sitting on the Fianna Fáil Benches believe it to be wrong. They will do a service to their own leaders if they get up and say so. I again urge on the Minister to give us some signal, if we believe a matter of principle to be here involved, that he will not persist in a section which will outrage fundamental belief when his purpose is no more than to secure an expedient method of doing something which he believes to be necessary for the preservation of the public health.

May I suggest that more progress might be made if amendments Nos. 15, 16 and 17 were disposed of, when the section may be discussed? Otherwise there will be four debates on the same matter. That is just a proposal. What about amendment No. 15?

On amendment No. 15, the Minister has indicated that he would accept this amendment but the medical fraternity would not. From what has been said now on the general matter explored by this discussion, I am not quite satisfied with my own amendment, and if I were withdrawing my amendment and substituting it by another one, after what the Minister has said, my substituted amendment would read:—

"That an exemption would be granted in respect of any child in relation to whom there was produced to such officer a certificate by the parents that the child was under the general care and supervision of a registered medical practitioner."

Hear, hear!

Because, when the Minister states that the possibilities under these proposals are that children up to 16 years of age are likely to be examined twice a year by a State medical service and, if they are not, exemptions will have to be sought and exemptions will only be granted when the parents produce certificates covering an examination twice a year of every one of their children——


——the Minister suggests that perhaps we should not take his suggestion in that particular direction as a completely thought-out and decided proposal, but the very suggestion contained therein is such as to make me quite dissatisfied with my own amendment. I can appreciate a doctor declining to give a certificate to say that a child was under his general care and supervision if he was not the family doctor, but I cannot imagine a person who is in the position of what we all know and recognise as a family doctor declining to give a certificate, if required, once or twice a year with regard to the children of a particular house, that they were under his general care and supervision. From my knowledge of families and their relations with the medical fraternity, I can see no difficulty at all in giving a certificate like that. If the Minister is not prepared to accept this amendment, which, I think, is an improvement on the section as it is, I would prefer to withdraw it in order to preserve my freedom, if necessary, to put it down again in the form in which it is, although, from what has been said now, I think perhaps the only thing the House would be entitled to press on parents who did not wish to make use of the State service is that they would give a certificate themselves, under their own signatures, that their children were under the general care and supervision of a qualified medical practitioner.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 16:—

To delete sub-section (6) of the proposed new Section 21 of amendment No. 14.

I move this amendment for the purpose of discussion. Sub-section (6) of the new Section 21 says:—

"A person who contravenes sub-section (4) of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof, in the case of a first offence, to a fine not exceeding five pounds, or, in the case of a second or any subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding ten pounds."

Sub-section (4) requires that when a medical inspection is arranged under this Act for a child, the parent shall submit the child to such inspection unless an exemption from the inspection has been granted under sub-section (5).

It is unsatisfactory to attack sub-section (6) when we are not satisfied that proper provision has been made for a complete and reasonable exemption, but the very fact that proper provision has not been made for a complete and reasonable exemption, perhaps, makes it all the more necessary that we would discuss the deletion of this sub-section now. As it stands, if a person does not wish to submit a child of his to the inspection ordered under the State service, he must present to the State officer a certificate in the prescribed form signed by a resident medical practitioner stating that he has examined the child within the prescribed period pending the inspection. It means, from what the Minister has said, that unless a parent in the future provides in respect of each one of his children, a certificate that he has been examined once a year or twice a year, he must submit the child to inspection by State medical officers and, if he does not do that, for the first offence—that is the offence committed in the first half of the year, in respect of one particular child—he will be fined £5 and, for the subsequent offence in that year, £10 and, I suppose, £10 for each six months that pass after that in respect of one child. Whether the whole family will be lumped together and one fine be imposed in respect of the whole family or not, the section does not make clear, but if the local authority, which is the authority, apparently, who may prosecute under this— although, I think, the Minister can also—it would look as if it was going to be attempted as a revenue collecting machine.

I submit to the Minister that the punishment section there—sub-section (6)—is fantastic. There should be no punishment there at all. Deputy Dr. O'Higgins, speaking on Second Reading, very much stressed that if a health service is to be effective, good and generally accepted, it must be a service that will appeal to the people and not one that is forced on them. I think that to pass a section here which threatens parents, if they do not have their children examined twice a year either by their own doctor or by State service, that they are going to be fined £5 at the beginning of the year and £10 at the end is too fantastic for argument.

I think that it is the experience of every dispensary doctor in the country that there are three types of parent. Firstly, those who are over-anxious about their children and who consult him for the least reason at all. That type of person will willingly come and co-operate. Secondly, there is the type which will come when the child complains and that type also will have no hesitation in submitting their children to examination. Some provision must be made for the third type of parent, that is, the type who wilfully neglect their children and who will not bring their children to doctors at all, even when they are seriously ill. If we are going to combat tuberculosis, if we are going to look after deformities in children in early childhood when they can be remedied— deformities such as club foot, squint, and that type of thing—if we are to get institutional treatment for children who are mentally deficient, we must have some law which will comple the parents of those children to bring them for examination. I do not imagine that doctors will insist on this being a hard and fast rule. They will know from experience and knowledge of the district that certain families unfailingly look after the health of the children and that they can be relied upon to bring to the notice of the local dispensary doctor, or the private practitioner, as the case may be, any defects which they may notice in the children. There is, however, the type who, either wilfully or through lack of proper appreciation of the importance of the health of the child, ignore these things until the time comes when they are incurable.

Some provision at least must be embodied in this Act if we are to get an early diagnosis of defects which would be easily remedied by institutional treatment. For that reason, I do not see why some provision such as this should not be embodied in the Act. If we have not power like that the Act, as proposed, will be lenient. We will not be able to eradicate diseases such as tuberculosis or get institutional treatment for mentally deficient children at a time, at any rate, when there is a possibility of cure. We often see cases sent to county homes at an age when they are incurable. If we are to get them early, routine regular examination should be insisted upon.

I fully sympathise with Dr. Brennan's solicitude for, as he has admitted, the restricted class of persons who are difficult to persuade to act prudently. One will get the mother whose child has a bad squint and who, instead of going to the doctor and asking what day the county oculist is coming, pokes around and does nothing. There are two ways of dealing with that problem. One is to pass a Draconian law giving the State servant the right to take control of all our children. That is the Socialist method and the Socialist who is demanding that right will admit that, in respect of a large number of people, it is unnecessary, but that he must grapple with this little knot of resistance.

Surely Deputy Dr. Brennan has shared my experience—I am perfectly certain he has often done it himself—of walking along the road and seeing a child with some manifest physical defect. He might speak to the mother himself, being the dispensary doctor and say: "Bring that child around to me to-morrow." But suppose the parents are the crochety kind whom one could not approach in that direct way. In such an instance one could go to a neighbour—we have often done it —and say: "You ought to get round Mrs. So-and-so to bring that child up to me." How many times has Deputy Dr. Brennan done that himself— thousands I am sure. I have no doubt that he has often done so and suffered considerable annoyance and trouble in getting the child sent to the oculist, pædiatric or orthopædic hospital to get something done—something which is nothing but trouble and bother for himself. It is common experience in the country that neighbours will go out of their way to try to settle it. Every one of us has, from time to time, seen a child who wanted some kind of attention and the parents, through ignorance, peculiarity or eccentricity, are not doing all that might be done. But there are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with a lb. of butter. We need not dragoon the whole population simply because a few eccentrics through the country fail to take the obvious measures to deal with some easily perceptible fault, physical defect, or otherwise in children.

I think perhaps Deputy Dr. Brennan overstates his case. Suppose we bring the children, all the children of the parish, to school medical examination. Surely Deputy Dr. Brennan is not going to guarantee to me that, in the kind of examination that can be conducted in these circumstances twice a year, every early case of tuberculosis will be discovered. Is not it true that the very early case, of which there is hope of recovery, can be missed by the general practitioner who is simply making a cursory superficial examination of the child? Deputy Dr. Brennan will agree with me that that is true. I do not think that there are very many small children under 16 years of age in this country who decline in advanced tuberculosis, as a result of neglect— between 16 and 25 years I will admit it at once. But take the growing children about the house—how often in the Deputy's own experience has the middle type of parent to whom he refers, the reasonable, sensible woman, brought her child to him and said that: "She is looking very badly. All the spirit is gone out of her and she seems to have lost all desire to be running about". I think that the vast majority of rational mothers in rural Ireland will detect that as quickly as any doctor and quicker. I quite agree with the Deputy that we will find in every parish, as I say, a couple of cases who, either through eccentricity or innocence, do not realise what can be done to remedy defects if taken in time.

What would the Deputy do in such cases?

Go down and visit them.

Compulsorily or otherwise?

Not at all; if I went in compulsorily, I would be thrown out. The man whose house I went into would have a perfect right to throw me out. I have no doubt that doctors often say to a neighbour: "Tell that woman to bring up her child to me so that I may do something for it." I know of no case in the parish in which I live where a child is abandoned or stands in need of medical care, which would effect an improvement in it, for the want of compulsory powers to make the parents bring the child to the doctor. I doubt very much if Deputy Dr. Brennan, in looking over his own dispensary area of which he has an intimate knowledge, could call to mind the name of one child who, he thinks, requires medical care that cannot be brought to the source where the child can get it. I dare say that, if there is a single child in his dispensary district which could benefit now by medical care and is not getting it, he knows a neighbour whom he could send to the child's house to use her influence with the parents to bring the child up to him so that he might send it away to the appropriate institution where it would get the care it required.

Has the Deputy anything to say about the fines proposed in the amendment?

This is the most monstrous proposal that has ever been brought before the House. Is there any Deputy who will say that a woman who has ten children is to be fined £50 every six months, and that, if she does not get the whole ten examined by the doctor, she is to go to jail for six months? Are we all daft? I do not wonder that Deputy Dr. Brennan should laugh. I would like to see what would be said to him if he appeared in his own district in the County Sligo and announced that in the case of every mother of ten children.

I am laughing at the poor opinion that the Deputy seems to have of medical men, and of their lack of tact in dealing with such a problem. I think that the medical officer and the health nurse can be relied upon to use discretion and tact.


But the Deputy does not give us any credit for having either tact or discretion.

Not at all. My idea is that this is wholly unnecessary. You are taking power here to put the mother in jail for six months. The Deputy knows well that the doctor will be able to get the woman to bring the child up to him if the child is in need of medical care. He will not have the slightest difficulty in getting that done. I am familiar with this problem so far as it concerns the rural district. I cannot speak with the same knowledge of the City of Dublin, but I am quite certain that in the rural districts where you have a dispensary doctor and a dispensary nurse there will be no child requiring medical care that will not be coaxed up to get treatment from the doctor, and you can do that without giving the mother six months in jail.

I do not agree with the Deputy.

If that fails, then the doctor can send for me and I will undertake to get the child brought to him. The idea of announcing to the mother of ten children that she now stands in danger of being fined £50 on the 1st June and £100 on the 1st December, and that she will be liable to be sent to jail for six months if she does not get the whole ten of them examined, was never heard of before in this country outside of Dublin Opinion or Barrack Variety.

Major de Valera

I have a certain amount of sympathy with Deputy Dillon's approach to this section, but I think that the Deputy, having jumped consideration of the principle which he considers to be involved, has lost the whole perspective of the section.

Would the Deputy deal with the fines?

Major de Valera

In order to deal with the fines it is necessary to get the perspective, in view of Deputy Dillon's last remarks. I make that submission to the Chair with respect. The fines depend on whether the examination is to be compulsory or otherwise. Deputy Dillon objects to that. The difficulty is simply this, whether the provision is to be a nullity or an effective one. So long as there is provision for another medical examination, in other words, so long as the parent is free to choose the medical examination in question, I think that leaves the section a perfectly legitimate one, and that it does not unduly interfere with the parent's rights. I had hoped to be able to answer Deputy Dillon a little more fully, but I think I must interpret the Chair's call to order in this way, that I am to address my self to the sub-section.

We have the whole section to discuss later.

If Deputies would keep that in mind we would make more progress, and that applies to both sides of the House.

Major de Valera

The simple answer to Deputy Dillon is whether you are going to make the section effective or not. If there is to be no sanction, then you will certainly make a joke of the section. On the other hand, if the section is to be effective, some sanction is necessary, and hence fines and penalties are warranted. Deputy Dillon has referred to the size of the maximum penalty. This point has to be noted in connection with that, that the section says the fine is not to exceed £5 and not to exceed £10. To my mind the limit is, if anything, too low. My reason for saying that is that while a fine of that size will be a deterrent to the ordinary working man or ordinary farmer it will be no deterrent at all to certain classes that I prefer not to specify, and that are to be found in big cities. I think that we can rely on the district justices, or whoever are to be the enforcing authority, to use discretion in fitting the fine to the case. My reaction to this is that the prescribed maximum penalty, so far as the fines are concerned, is, if anything, on the low side. I would anticipate that certain people who would be relatively well off might be put in an advantageous position in view of the fact that they had only a small maximum penalty to meet. Instead of taking the same view as Deputy Dillon, I would on that basis suggest going a little further and I would say that the limits of the fine are too small.

The Deputy has in mind sophisticated, educated, rational people?

Major de Valera

The Deputy has.

That is the class he has in mind. The Deputy apprehends that the fines may be too small to deter a certain class of people. I take it he is referring then to reasonably wealthy people——

Major de Valera


——who have had all the advantages of education and are perfectly competent to resolve any ordinary question in a reasonable way.

Major de Valera

Yes. The Deputy will have to admit that occasionally you will meet cases in those classes. The reason I do not want to specify a class is that the vast majority in those classes are perfectly reliable citizens. Just as you are catering for cases in one class, in order to cater for those in another, I would suggest that the minimum be raised, relying on the very sound discretion of the district justice. It is purely a matter of making the punishment effective with regard to the principle obtaining here.

I am opposed to all the provisions of this section and, therefore, I support the amendment to delete sub-section (6). I cannot understand the mentality of a Minister, and particularly a Minister with medical knowledge, who insists that we cannot have a good standard of health without having compulsory powers and using them to the extent that we must bring offenders into court and have fines imposed. Particularly in that respect, I want to make it clear to the last speaker that the individual who is going to take proceedings under sub-section (8) is the health authority who provided the medical inspection and that health authority is going to be the county manager—so that the bureaucratic machine will operate and the local people and local representatives will have no say whatever; and when it comes to the Minister, the Minister will wash his hands completely of responsibility and will point out that the law now provides that it is the health authority through the county manager who is responsible for prosecutions and that he has no responsibility in the matter. I cannot understand that and I do not believe that the Minister is convinced that he is going to get results along those lines.

If the neglect by parents in this country were to such an extent that the health of the community and the health of the children was completely undermined because of their neglected condition, there might be some excuse for transgressing and setting aside the fundamental principles and trampling on the sacred rights of parents. Surely it is ridiculous to expect—and I cannot understand Dr. Brennan in suggesting it—that you can have the help and co-operation of the parents—and I am sure he fully appreciates the necessity for that—towards maintaining good health, by compulsion and regimentation. Medicine and compulsion are not compatible, and you must have the goodwill and co-operation of the patient—the child—and the parent, if you are to succeed in your treatment.

In suggesting that this is necessary, the Minister is not being realistic. It is legislation gone mad. It is making for a bureaucratic system here, giving power to certain civil servants to make a decision and the county medical officer will be compelled to do certain things. He will eventually report to the Custom House how many parents have not presented their children for examination and instructions will go down to the local authority, and the county manager will not give two hoots for the concern of the local people. His anxiety is to satisfy the Custom House and, provided he does that, it does not matter about anybody else. That is how the bureaucratic machine is going to operate. The local people will have no say. The machinery will be put in operation and the people will be dragged into court, no matter what excuse they have to offer. The penalties are there and they will have to be imposed. It is a scandalous proposal and the Minister should be ashamed of it. We should put this to the Minister in the strongest possible way that there is a fundamental principle at stake and that mere animal health is not everything.

Hear, hear.

There are certain things that are above that and are more valuable still. The Minister, in a materialistic fashion, wants to trample on those sacred principles. He wants to invade the secrecy of the home and place the power of the State above the family and above the parent. I do not think he is going to succeed or get the co-operation of medical men in that. When the amendments by Deputy Mulcahy, to reduce the powers given in the proposed new section, were withdrawn, to be discussed later, the Minister told us he felt the Deputy's proposal would not be accepted. He was advised by his advisory council that it would not be accepted. I can understand the advisory council saying it would not be accepted, as if they agreed that a practitioner would certify that the child was under his general care and supervision it might imply some responsibility for the health of the child and the parent might happen to neglect, inadvertently or through ignorance, bringing the child for treatment in certain circumstances. What advice did the Minister get from his medical council? What were their proposals and were they satisfied with the Minister's proposal?

Observe the step further taken by Deputy de Valera. I think Deputy Dr. Brennan had in mind, when he referred to certain categories of persons who could only be induced to bring their children for examination by compulsion, people like tinkers and vagrants, who are very often very difficult to urge and prevail upon to act prudently. It may be, of course, through ignorance; but observe Deputy de Valera's approach to it. He says the fine of £5 is not enough; he wants to raise the maximum—so that it will be an effective deterrent to those who, fully informed, having had all the advantages of education and as well equipped as any citizen of this State could hope to be to determine calmly and deliberately and in an informed way what their duties as parents were, in the exercise of the rights conferred upon them by Section 41 of the Constitution, determine with full deliberation that it is not in their child's best interests to have him examined at the stipulated intervals. It shall be within the power of the State to impose upon that person a fine so onerous that, rather than face it, he will reluctantly submit.

Surely Deputy Brennan does not stand for that doctrine? He may feel exasperated sometimes, when some neighbours or friends will not do what he feels would be prudent and sensible to do, in respect of a child which he feels is urgently in need of a particular kind of treatment; but if he felt that that parent had intelligently weighed up all the relevant arguments, had understood the significance of the case made by the doctor, even if the parent reached a wrong conclusion, provided Deputy Dr. Brennan was satisfied that he really understood the arguments and had conscientiously weighed them, surely he would not claim the right to stalk into that house, in effect to lock the parents up and leave them under constraint, to take the child from them and to do with that child what he thought was the right thing to do, in direct violation of the authority of the parents whom God put over the children. There cannot be any rational Deputy who will stand for that proposition, and that is the proposition which is put forward by Deputy de Valera when he says the maximum fines under the Bill must be raised to such a figure as will enable the district justice to impose on a person, whose financial position has enabled him to have a full education and the fullest possible intellectual training adequately to weigh up argument, warning and advice that may be tendered to him by friends, professional or otherwise——

Major de Valera

What does the Deputy say my proposition is?

I do not want to repeat myself or the never-ending patience of the Ceann Comhairle may wilt.

It is being somewhat tried to-day.

I have no doubt that Deputy Dr. Brennan will expound my thesis to Deputy de Valera because I cannot help feeling that I have somewhat shaken the doctor—only somewhat. I do not believe there is a Deputy who will defend that proposition on its merits, and, although we have discussed this in great detail, I dare to suggest that an aspect of this problem has been presented to the House during the last hour of which the House was not fully seised before this debate took place. I want to reiterate that, in all I have said on this section and its implications, I have no desire at this stage to indict the Minister for Health with some dark conspiratorial purpose to do something he knew to be wrong. I am simply putting to him most strongly that there is an aspect of this provision which may have completely escaped his attention, having before his mind the primary purpose effectively to provide medical care for all, free, which, now that it has been expounded to him, should give him cause to reconsider the matter and nothing more cogent, nothing more illuminating as to the need for that reconsideration has been put forward, than Deputy de Valera's proposal that these fines should be raised to such a level that, no matter who the parents are, no matter what their qualifications are to consider the pros and cons of having their children medically examined, if they do not toe the line, the district justice is to have power to make them do so.

I do not believe the Minister stands for that proposition. I do not believe that he would desire the situation which Deputy de Valera wants. He wants a situation in which if Dr. Ryan —not the Minister for Health for the moment—goes to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and says: "I think your child is not looking well. You ought to bring it to a doctor", and the Minister for Industry and Commerce replies: "I have examined that matter carefully. She is a nervous child and for the present I do not think it expedient to frighten her by bringing her to the doctor, or by bringing the doctor in, because she becomes terribly upset. I have discussed the matter with her mother and we have made up our minds that it is better to wait", we are effectively to arm Dr. Ryan to go into the house of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and bring out his child, in his despite, and have it examined. Is there any Deputy who stands for that? Does anyone seriously propose that the Oireachtas should enact legislation of that kind? Again, I remind the House that it does not matter a fiddle-dee-dee whether you do or not, because it will be declared unconstitutional at once, and will never function, but do not let us disgrace ourselves by going on record that we espouse this proposition.

Major de Valera

I owe an apology to Deputy Dillon for not being here for all he said, but I was unfortunately called out by a person who wanted to see me, as people occasionally want to see Deputies. I hope the Deputy will forgive me. I think Deputy Dillon misunderstands me. I must reserve what I have to say on this section until the general discussion on the section comes up, when I shall have something to say, but I have this much to say at the moment, that I have a great deal of sympathy with Deputy Dillon's instinctive approach to much of this problem, as he may gather from my attitude to this Bill when it was before us in another form. Postponing for a moment the arguments I would adduce in favour of the general principle of the section until the section comes up for discussion, I will explain to the Deputy what I meant with regard to this proposal of the fines.

In addressing oneself to this section and suggesting that the maximum limits of the fines were too low, one has to make the necessary assumption, first, that the other provisions of the section have been decided upon. I did assume that, in order to keep myself within the direction of the Chair. I assumed gratuitously, for the purpose of this discussion and subject to whatever may transpire on the general discussion, that these powers were necessary. I assumed that the principle in this section is governed by the question of the Minister making a reasonable Order and dealing with some real threat, and that the general implementation of these compulsory provisions would take effect only where there was a grave communal need therefor, such, for instance, as a very serious incidence of tuberculosis in a certain area; perhaps tuberculosis is not the best case to take, but something more acute.

If Deputy Dillon will bear with me, this is the way my mind was working. Deputy Dillon knows as well as I do that, if it is a case of evading provisions of this nature, you will get evaders in all classes and sections of the community, and the effect of the monetary sanction will be to make that an effective sanction for the lower-paid members of the community and a mere token matter for people on another scale. What influenced me, therefore, in making the remark about the limits of our fines is that, if it is necessary to have compulsory power, some sanction is needed and, if some sanction is needed, common justice demands that the sanction should apply equally to all sections of the community.

One thing I do object to, and I think Deputy Dillon will object to it as strongly as anybody else, is the proposition that we should coerce the poorer defaulters of the community and allow, by our own neglect in such a matter as a penalty, the more opulent defaulters to escape. I am glad to say that the defaulters in any class do not represent the particular grade in question. The only way to adjust that would be the commonsense of the court which will inflict these penalties. That is what I was suggesting and nothing further.

In view of the construction that Deputy Dillon has put on much of what I said, I want it to be quite clear that I am confining myself to that part of this section, because, as I have said, I have a great deal of sympathy with the instinctive approach of those people who say that the less compulsory interference with the child and with the family the better. I think it is a sound reaction on the part of any Deputy. But then, as against that, the crowded circumstances of modern life, particularly in our cities, poses communal problems which also cry out for solution and which have been referred to so frequently from all sides of the House. Therefore, inevitably, it will be a question of judgment and choice, unfortunately even a choice between the lesser of two evils, a necessary choice in this connection. But, subject to anything else that may be said, my remarks about penalties were strictly confined to that point I was making and had no reference to any wider proposition. I hope the Deputy will accept that. For that reason, I am not at this stage dealing with a number of other arguments that he adduced.

I am not interested in either maximum fines or minimum fines in connection with this question. What I am interested in is that we should show the minimum amount of commonsense, and there is certainly no commonsense displayed by the Parliament of this country in spending time wrangling as to what penalties we will impose upon parents if they do not utilise free medical services freely given. If we have reached that point in the history of this country, then the sooner we turn the key in the door and the whole lot of us go home the better.

I am happy to say that this particular issue is absolutely unnecessary, that there is no evidence whatsoever on the all-over scale that school medical inspection is not going along progressively successfully and, in the main, harmoniously. The Minister is familiar with the old saying that one swallow does not make a summer. At a full meeting of county medical officers of health I made inquiries and there were only two out of the whole lot who would like to have the powers that are contained here. When they went more closely into it, they were satisfied that it was not the way to deal with it. I do not know how many Deputies or advisers of the Minister have experience of the subject we are discussing; but I can tell the Minister and Deputies that one difficult, nervous or frightened child can hold up the whole work of medical inspection of a school for the best part of a couple of hours. You can bring a child forcibly to the school, but you cannot examine a child forcibly with results. If one child starts to bellow and to get cantankerous and frightened, that kind of thing is infectious when dealing with young children. One child brought to a school by a reluctant parent who is in a bad humour because she is under threat of legal proceedings, the mother and the child arriving in a bad temper, will turn the school into bedlam.

I listened to the Minister's case in introducing the Second Reading of this Bill and to the Minister's case in concluding the debate. I invited him to get all the ammunition he could to justify this particular set of proposals. I am satisfied that he has not come here to-day with an empty gun, but I will guarantee that, when he attempts to fire off his gun, he will find that he has a blank cartridge; that there is no genuine case to be made for bringing the law into the work of school medical inspection.

This Bill has a desirable aim and legitimate objectives; but, on the face of it, it has every evidence of hysteria, of jumping off in one direction in one section and another direction in another section. We are discussing what penalties the courts will impose on parents whose children happen to be absent. When we come to Section 43 we will find that there is another provision prohibiting parents from sending a child to school if they have any reason to believe that the child is infested with lice. What will be the obvious defence when you mobilise all your absentees and bring them to court? What will be the defence of every parent? "Little Mickey was scratching and I had reason to believe he was infested." There is the answer in Section 43. Are we either lunatics or commonsense people when we argue about the height of the penalties to be imposed and provide later on in the Bill a perfect escape, so that it will not be possible to impose a penalty on any single parent for a child being absent?

Some of us have to think of the human machinery that is to be charged with the responsibility of carrying out the really futile and absolutely unnecessary proposals in this Bill. In the first place, you cannot prosecute any parent except the parent has got due notice of the time and place of school medical inspection. In a court of law it is not just as simple as arguing across a desk in the Custom House. In a court of law due notice will be a personal call, with personal notice or a registered letter.

The work of school medical inspection is difficult and slow enough as it is, and one of the reasons for extending the machinery in this Bill is because it is so terribly slow. But, as it is, all we have to do is to notify the school manager or the principal of the school of the date of the school medical inspection. If you mean anything by all your legal threats here, you will have to send a registered letter to the parents of every child in the school. There is no other legal evidence of due notice being given to the parents. You would need an office staff if you are dealing with any kind of big school. The preliminary work that has to be done, if these proposals are not to be absolutely meaningless, will be considerable. There would be a couple of weeks' preliminary work in every big school. You must remember that in the country there are a great number of names and a great number of families and there are many families of the same name in the same townland and there will be any amount of mistakes made in the notifications or in the subsequent prosecution—which, I hope, I will never see. Even the teachers make mistakes arising out of the multiplicity of Byrnes and so on. They make mistakes over the correct name of the parent of this or that little girl. Time and again that has happened.

We will prosecute and interfere and tinker with a machine that is working quite satisfactorily. What will be the result? We will be replacing harmony and confidence with distrust and the virus of coercion and compulsion. Do you think you will popularise your new health schemes in any district in Ireland by parading unfortunate mothers before the district justices, who will impose, according to Deputy de Valera, maximum fines according to the people's capacity to pay? I do not care whether it is a maximum or a minimum fine. Do you think that is the way to inspire confidence in the health machinery of this country, or that that is the way to create harmony?

All this idea of public health service, of school medical service and child welfare schemes came from the United States of America. Read any of their literature on the question and what is blazoned across every piece of literature? That if there is not harmony and co-operation, if the people do not cry out for the scheme, then the whole thing is worthless. How was it started in America? It started in one State and a lot of publicity and propaganda followed until the next State started shouting for the scheme. That State was left until the shout became a roar and then they got the scheme as a concession. There was publicity there again and a third State shouted for it. They gave the people the service that the people wanted and appreciated. If they had begun by saying: "This is the law, you will have your children medically examined or you will pay a fine; you will have this, that and the other done or you will pay a fine," the thing would have been a failure from the very beginning.

One of the very things we are warned against, and one of the things that anybody with any knowledge or experience knows should be avoided in connection with health services, is what we are inviting in this Bill—that the people are to be compelled to accept it. The Minister has grown up in a county that was the first in Ireland that showed its violent reaction against health measures, which the Minister must admit are beneficial, and the only justification he advanced last night for that reaction was that the whole scheme was compulsory. In other words, it was a natural reaction last night because there was compulsion behind a particular health service. Now we are going to apply it to the schools and, as Deputy de Valera said, it is unjust to penalise or coerce people merely because they are poor.

I accept that. Are not the rich given a perfect let-out in this Bill? They have only to send a certificate saying that their own private practitioner has examined the child and there is the let-out. The wealthy can escape. It does not matter how sky-high you make your penalties, there is a perfect escape for the wealthy. There is also an escape for anybody who adopts the obvious defence by saying that he had reason to believe his child was infested.

I should like the Minister to give his views on the operative side of this question. I referred to it on the Second Reading. How will it be implemented? You cannot, in justice, take these particular powers and be selective in their application. No official, no officer working honestly under any Act of Oireachtas Eireann can say: "I will prosecute Tom Brown because his children were absent, but I will not prosecute John White." If there are to be penalties for children being absent, then there can be no selectivity; they will all have to pay a penalty for the offence.

I want to get down to the human machinery for carrying out all these prosecutions for manufactured illegalities. Goodness knows we have enough breaches of the ordinary law without manufacturing new crimes or new offences. Let Dr. Brennan go in. He is a busy man and let us say he inspects a large school with a couple of hundred pupils. There would be a good attendance. The average attendance out of the 200 pupils on the rolls any day would be, we shall say, 170. You have an attendance on the day of the school medical inspection up to the average. You have 170 present and 30 absent and in none of the 30 cases is there a certificate. Neither Dr. Brennan nor myself has the right to discriminate, if this is the law, as to who will be prosecuted and who will not. We shall either proceed against all or none.

Say that we prosecute the parents of the 30 children and the court is fixed for 11 o'clock in some place. It may be the doctor's dispensary day but some other arrangement will have to be made to get the dispensary done. Or the doctor may be away on a maternity case. If so, the case in the court collapses for want of evidence. Let us take it that he is available and that he gets to the court with these 30 prosecutions. There will be a solicitor appearing for four, five, nine or ten of the parents—perhaps different solicitors. They are going to do their job and earn their fees. They are going to defend their clients to the last ditch. The district justice has also to deal with all the other offences listed—prosecutions under emergency regulations and everything else. Charges against people who are in custody, we will say, come first. The doctor sits at the back of the court and it comes near to the adjournment hour. Perhaps one or two of his cases are taken and finished but, by the time the doctor is out of the box, he will have a lot more experience of the foolishness of this kind of legislation than before he went in. He will be amazed at the things he will be called on to prove, things that as between ourselves, we would accept. "Who took that record of attendance —did you?""No". "Very well; who did?""My nurse". "Is she here?""No". "Oh, dismiss". The court is not just the kind of simple affair that some people think. However, one or two cases are taken that day and the other 28 are postponed, say, to the following Wednesday at another venue. The doctor gets a few more through there—perhaps more if there are no solicitors.

Who is going to do all that? Who are the witnesses going to be? How are they going to prove their cases? What is the human machinery? What regard are you going to have for the law of evidence? How are you going to prove your case and is there any use going to court if all your cases are going to be "turfed" one after another? Even if you succeed, after a good many days in court, with regard to that one school, look at all the time that is lost. Look at the school children who could have been inspected while your staff was sitting down in court.

Frankly I regard the proposals contained here as nonsense. They are not required and there is not, I think, one of the officers dealing with this particular question, that welcomes or even will accept the responsibilities put on them here. I know that in cities and in the very dense areas there is a high percentage, higher than anywhere else, of absentees from school inspection. You have a choice of two roads to go— either by attraction to get them there or by compulsion to try to drive them there. Do you think that fines on 20 or 30 parents who are brought into that court are going to work miracles? You will blister those parents all right, but do you think it is going to have the effect you want? The school medical inspection scheme is going to be cursed by every one of those parents. Now the whole scheme of school medical inspection has not yet come of age. It is only in the phase of youth. It is still growing, still developing, but it is growing and developing in the right way. It is becoming healthier every year that passes over and this kind of officious meddling is going to do immense and irreparable harm. It cannot possibly do good. It is not required and it can only do harm.

The whole foundation of a health service is confidence, co-operation, harmony and a rather greedy acceptance of the facilities of the service being given. The very minute that these services have got to function with the aid of the police, under the shadow of the courts, through fear of penalties, then the whole new service is still-born. Not only is it still-born, but it is still-born with an ugly disfiguring scar. The whole thing is ill-conceived, prompted all right by the best intentions in the world, but rushed into print without taking consultation or advice. I think that one of the grandest services established in this State is the school medical inspection and treatment scheme. I do not think there is any other service to equal it in beneficial results. I do not think any other service has brought parents and the State so closely together in harmony and confidence. I know there are areas that are still backward, but there is no area so backward as mine was 18 years ago —not a single one in all Ireland. If I had got compulsory powers and applied them, the very name of public health would be detested in County Meath. It has developed up to the point now that good parents, anxious about the health of their children and the remedying of their defects, are weekly applying to have them examined out of turn and to have the school rotation upset so as to give it another direction. The same remark applies to teachers.

My experience is the experience of the vast majority. There may be an exception or two. But, if that is the position, why take chances with it? Why introduce this hateful element of coercion? Why have the work go on under the threat of the big stick and why should we people here, sensible people, with plenty of work to do, spend our time, waste our time, arguing as to the extent of the penalty that we will impose on parents whose children happen to be absent from school medical inspection?

As far as I am concerned, this has been a most unsatisfactory debate. I have tried to confine myself to amendments, so far, but Deputies have come in and made very long speeches on the whole principle enshrined in this section. I do not think that Deputy Dr. O'Higgins or Deputy Dillon could maintain that they have kept to the amendments. They have taken occasion to make a speech on the whole principle underlying this section. Of course, if the particular amendment we are dealing with is carried, the section goes and therefore, it could possibly be argued that I cannot argue against that amendment unless I argue for the section because, if the section is necessary, penalties are necessary and if I want to tell the Dáil that I believe the penalty is necessary, I must tell the Dáil that I believe the section is necessary.

When I came to the Dáil with this Bill on Second Reading, I thought it was received rather favourably and I thought we could have amendments brought into the Bill in a friendly and good spirit but it is not so easy to maintain that spirit when you have Deputies like Deputy Dr. O'Higgins and Deputy Dillon mentioning in practically every sentence of their tirade "lunacy", "hysteria", "bedlam", "nonsense", "tinkering with a machine that is going satisfactorily", "officious meddling", "ill-conceived legislation" and so on. Surely if these Deputies have a good case, they ought to be able to make their case without being offensive but it does not appear to be possible for the Deputies to make the case without using these epithets.

Deputy Dillon said this is a matter of principle, that he was against this compulsory examination as a matter of principle. If you are standing on principle, you cannot depart from it but Deputy Dillon did say that if, for instance, there was an epidemic, he would agree to have compulsory examination. Surely, if you undermine the principle, the principle goes. Why does Deputy Dillon agree, for instance, in case of epidemic to allow children to be examined? Because he thinks that these children should be protected and that the community in general should be protected from any disease spreading. Deputy Dillon probably has in mind epidemics like, let us say, typhus or some of these very dangerous epidemics but there are insidious diseases that spread if not detected. Tuberculosis is one instance of a disease which may be there and which may spread to the whole family if it is not detected and treated. There are such things that affect children like impetigo and itch, which interfere with their health very much and, unfortunately, as we all admit, these particular diseases affect the very children who are not submitted for medical examination at school or elsewhere, the children who are likely to be affected with impetigo, itch or one of these diseases that come to children that are not very well kept in their own homes.

Section 43 would prevent them going to school.

It does not prevent them playing with children around their neighbourhood.

But you prohibit them going to school.

So we can and there is nothing to prevent us having them examined as well as preventing them from going to school.

How are you going to get them examined at school if you prevent them going to school?

They can be examined. Deputy Dr. O'Higgins made a very long speech on this particular amendment and went into the matter very widely and I had the greatest patience when listening to him and not interrupting him. Deputy Dr. O'Higgins talked for the medical officers of health in this country. I have their reports here and I have as good a right to quote them as Deputy Dr. O'Higgins has. I will quote some of them to show whether it is necessary to go farther in this medical examination of children, or not.

The first that I have a quotation from here says:—

"Attention has been repeatedly called to the difficulty of impressing upon parents the wisdom of paying attention to the care of their children's teeth and in spite of all our efforts in the way of personal interview, follow-up visits, etc., there is still a decided fall in the numbers presented."

Another says:—

"Anything less than 75 per cent. of the children on the rolls cannot be looked upon as satisfactory because the very children who are most in need of medical examination are among those deliberately kept at home by careless or incompetent parents on the day of the school inspection."

These are the people we want to get after—the careless and incompetent parents who, according to this medical officer of health, keep their children deliberately at home on the day of inspection and Deputy Dr. O'Higgins says: "Do not do anything about it; try to persuade them" and so on. Are we to stand idly by and not only permit those parents to neglect their own children but also to put the neighbours' children and others in danger of the spread of infection of those things I have mentioned?

Another medical officer of health says:—

"Some parents think that if the child is in apparently good health any medical examination is uncalled for."

That might answer some of Deputy Dillon's arguments.

"Such an attitude indicates ignorance of the real object of school medical service, namely, the prevention of illness and the maintenance of normal health, and it is to be regretted."

Another says:

"There are still parents who refuse to allow their child to be examined either because they consider it beneath their dignity or, according to their own estimation, unnecessary."

Another says:

"I find that on my next visit to the schools in question, within a few years, these teeth which could have been saved by fillings have to be extracted. There is legislation which compels children to attend school."

The Party opposite must not have been here when that was brought in.

"There should also be legislation to compel parents to have their children's teeth attended to."

It is very hard to see how any Legislature should compel children to go to school and not compel them at least to submit to an examination—we are not compelling them to be treated— so that parents may be told, at least, that their child should have his teeth attended to or his eyes attended to or that something else should be done for the child's sake and for the sake of the community in general.

The Minister must be aware that the compulsory School Attendance Act has failed constitutionally before the courts.

There has been a decision of the Supreme Court.

Yes, on one particular item of directing a child to a particular school, but not in regard to making a child go to school.

It has not failed on that score.

The whole principle of compulsory attendance at school has been declared to be contrary to the Constitution.

Yes, but on account of a clause. The old compulsory attendance remains.

The Minister would be well advised to look up the judgement again.

Yes. Another report is:—

"Under such a scheme as school medical inspection, there will, I presume, always remain certain individual parents who, for no good reason, refuse to avail themselves of the facilities offered."

These are reports of some of the medical officers of health who at least have to complain that things are not going as smoothly as Deputy Dr. O'Higgins would convey.

Going back to school attendance, I do not think the Deputy is right in what he says but, at any rate, I think the Parties in this House never objected on principle, as they do here, to compulsory education. Why was the drive made for education? So that we might have the children of this country grow up without illiteracy amongst them. In other words, the idea was to train the children to be good citizens, able to look after themselves. Surely it is just as important that we should have the health of the children attended to so that they may grow up physically strong and healthy as well as educated, if we want them to look after themselves properly when they come to a certain age. It is not only that. After all, an illiterate person is not dangerous to his neighbours, whereas a delicate child may be. There is a double reason why we should be particular about the health of our children in this country. Therefore, we should do everything that is humanly possible to see that the child's health is improved. The Constitution was quoted about family life. I would like Deputies to know that Article 42 (5) says:—

"In exceptional cases, where the parents for physical or moral reasons fail in their duty towards their children, the State as guardian of the common good, by appropriate means shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child."

Deputy Dillon raised the question of Christian Scientists. I want to point out that so far as this section goes, the section compels under certain circumtances parents to present their children for examination but it does not in any circumstances compel the parents to have their children treated. The doctor will tell the parent, if he thinks that the child requires treatment, that it would be advisable for the child to get treatment but he does not go further than that. The parent can adopt his advice or not as he thinks fit but the section does not go beyond that particular point. It should be remembered too that this particular section is adoptable. In the Bill as it was brought in first it was to have been applicable to the whole country but, in view of speeches made on Second Reading and, in particular, a speech made by Deputy Dr. O'Higgins in which he suggested that the section might be made adoptable, this amendment was brought in.

Deputy Dr. O'Higgins stated on the Second Reading:—

"If the general powers asked for here are necessary or defensible in certain zones or areas, I suggest to the Minister that he should make these powers adoptive; if any administrative body wants to adopt legal compulsion behind the medical work of the county, let them adopt it the same as all adoptive Acts are applied to certain areas, but do not apply them to the country generally."

That is what I have done by putting down these amendments. One would have expected that having, as it were, fallen in with the request of Deputy Dr. O'Higgins in bringing in this amendment to make the clause adoptive that the amendment would not have been described by all these epithets of "lunacy", "hysteria", "nonsense", "officious meddling", "ill-conceived drafting", etc., that met it when it came along. As I have said in the beginning, if this amendment put in by Deputy Mulcahy is carried the section goes. Therefore, a vote for the amendment or against the section appears to amount to the same thing.

I invited the Minister on the Second Reading, and again speaking on this section, to make to the House a reasonable case so as to convince Deputies, on the case made, that school medical inspection was not going along progressively and in the right direction. Might I say now that one point which I did make every time I stood up in connection with this Bill and to which I called the attention of the Minister and of every Deputy on each occasion I stood up is that I did not claim to speak on behalf of any organised body of the profession; that I was speaking as a Deputy of this House with a certain individual experience of the work we are discussing? I made that clear. I think that the suggestion put forward by the Minister that I was claiming to speak on behalf of the society or the main body of the county medical officers of health was uncalled for. I did invite the Minister on the Second Reading——

I do not want to misrepresent the Deputy but I thought the Deputy said that at a full meeting of county medical officers of health two of them said "Yes" but after argument said "No."

That is a fact. I am not speaking on their behalf. I do not claim to, and I made it clear that I was not claiming that. However, I am entitled to give to the House the benefit of any experience I have had whether in association with others or in pursuing my own particular field of activity. I invited the Minister—and I can see that there has been a rather thorough search of the Custom House vaults—on the Second Reading, to bring all the information, all the ammunition he could mobilise to justify asking for compulsory powers behind school medical inspection. We have got the ammunition now. I told the House before it heard the explosion that it would turn out to be a blank cartridge. There are some 30 medical reports on school medical inspection every year. The work has been going on, all over, for 12 to 15 years. About four or five medical reports on school medical inspection and a number of abstracts— some of them completely irrelevant— are all that can be dug out of all that huge mass of material to judge by what we have heard here from the Minister. One medical officer deplores the fact that there are a number of parents who do not appreciate the value of school medical inspection. Do you think a fine will make the parents deplore it any less, or make the situation less deplorable? Do you think a fine will make them appreciate the value of school medical inspection? A fine will arouse anger and make them detest school medical inspection. That is what I fear—the stirring up of a volume of hatred in every district against the new health machinery and the existing health machinery.

There was a lot of distrust, suspicion, and a certain amount of animosity in the early days. There were suggestions of probing by officialdom, etc. We survived all that. We have lived it down. We lived it down and triumphed by getting the confidence, the trust, the co-operation and the friendship of parents, teachers and managers, even getting a certain amount of the affection and confidence of the little children. Now we are going to call in the police behind our new health services. We are going to make people toe the health line under the threat of heavy financial penalties. The Minister objects to adjectives. I am not a master of adjectives, but even if I were, I would confess myself incapable of finding a suitable one to apply to what we are proposing to do here.

In the case of these infectious ailments that are to be detected, according to the Minister, at school medical inspections—itch, infestation, impetigo, tuberculosis, etc.—Section 43 will convey to any parent that he is not to send his children to school if the children are in an itchy condition. The real value of a school medical inspection in my opinion, particularly in certain areas, is that it is a private confidential way of getting after the dirty child whose parents to not know, or understand, how to keep a child clean and free from vermin. That is the biggest value of all and I am not minimising the value in other directions.

If the Minister had made any use of the knowledge that is in the books before him as regards the number of cases of lice infections found at every school medical inspection he would have seen that the real value of a school medical inspection is that one comes across those cases and that the nurse can give the parent, in private, a little bit of advice, and a little bit of material. She can tell her how she is to clean the child and how easily she can keep the child clean. That is the real value of those school medical inspections, but when you come to Section 43 you prohibit that child going to a school medical inspection. In other words, you are prohibiting, inside the Bill, the attendance of the very kind of child that you want there on the day of school medical inspection. Is that evidence that this provision has been carefully worked out, that there have been ample and adequate consultations, and that there has been a reasonable amount of consideration given to the clauses which the Dáil is asked to adopt?

This is a new health Bill. I understand that the primary school medical inspection is to be carried out through the machinery of the district medical officer. The machinery of the district medical officer is far closer to parents and children than the central county machinery. The district medical officer, in the course of his ordinary practice and of his routine duties from day to day, knows very well who are absent and who are present, and particularly those who should be present. He is the friend of the people in his district. If there is a certain amount of absenteeism in certain districts at the moment, why not have enough confidence in the new machinery, with its close contact and continuous approach between the medical examiner and the parents, to bring about an improvement? Does the Minister seriously think that a 75 per cent. attendance is a bad attendance, or that by any legal machinery or process he is going to get a higher attendance? He should ask his colleague the Minister for Education how a roll is made up in a country school. It is made up at the beginning of the school year by bringing all the little kiddies of three and four years of age to the school. They all go on the roll, but most of them do not continue going to school in the first year. A 75 per cent. attendance of those on the roll is, in fact, a 98 per cent. attendance of the effectives. If, at the school medical inspection, you reach or pass the average attendance, is that not good? If you have a higher number present at school at a medical inspection than what is the average attendance, is not that excellent? Does it not show that you are beating the average because of the desire of parents to avail of the machinery, even though that attendance may be only 75 per cent. of the attendance of those on roll? In most rural areas that will be so.

One of the quotations we got from the Minister was that a 75 per cent. attendance was not satisfactory. It was certainly an optimist who wrote that, and Utopia is the place where that particular medical officer should be functioning. We all know that a 75 per cent. attendance is a good attendance. The Minister for Education does not have that as his average attendance in the schools as against those on the roll. With all the new health machinery, with all the aids that we have to our hand at the moment and that we did not have even three years ago, with the lightning speed with which it is possible to clean up even the worst cases of infestation, has not the Minister not enough faith and confidence in his machine to know that the parents of dirty children, seeing the results obtained in the case of others, will be keen and anxious to avail of that machinery and to have their own children cleaned up in the same way? In the early days when there was a very poor attendance at school medical inspection the children who attended got their glasses and they got their teeth and their tonsils removed. When the parents of other children saw the benefits that were to be obtained they were panting for the next school medical inspection so that their own children would get similar benefits. It is a wrong time to be taking a decision to invoke the law in the first year when ordinary supplies are beginning to come in.

Those materials which were discovered and used during the war would be of immense benefit to the school medical inspection staff and would have wonderful results with regard to parents. Surely this is not the time to go in for force? Surely it is not wise that the start of our new health legislation, sound and beneficial and in every way admirable in its aims and objects, should be to go to the police station and to the District Court, to see that one person is brought to hospital between a pair of Civic Guards, and that another person is mulcted in the District Court because he did not avail of the benefits that we have provided. It is very unwise, it is folly, it is going to put the brand of failure on the new Health Bill. At this period, little more than 20 years after the start of our public health service, if you associate it with an element of compulsion, the policeman's baton, the district justice's fine, you are going to replace trust and confidence, affection and harmony by hatred and detestation.

I am not going to take up any more of the Minister's time or the time of the Dáil arguing this point of compulsion, either on this section or subsequent sections. Any person with any experience in any walk of life and with any sense of honour can only make available to others his absolute convictions and, if those who had not any such experience by weight of numbers or by virtue of position or authority say they are going to have their way, I for one will not block their path.

In referring to the Constitution, the Minister produced Articles 41 and 42 and finally found anchorage in sub-section (5) of Article 42. What does that sub-section say? It says:—

"In exceptional cases, where the parents for physical or moral reasons fail in their duty to their children, the State as guardian of the common good by appropriate means shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard to the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child."

Does any rational Deputy argue that I —or any citizen of this State-have failed in my duty towards my children because I did not have them examined twice a year by the public health doctor or an approved physician? Is there any lawyer in Ireland so thread-bare and destitute that he would accept a fee to argue that proposition before any bench, however incompetent?

If the Minister acknowledges that, reading Articles 41 and 42, he feels the whole weight of them are against him, unless he may avail of the specific exception provided for under Section 5, where is there any Deputy who will argue that we have failed for physical or moral reasons in our duty towards our children if the only allegation brought against us is that we did not submit them twice a year to medical examination?

Do Deputies realise the implications of conferring these compulsory powers? Do Deputies realise that the Bill provides for "authorised persons"? Authorised persons are persons designated by the county manager to see that the provisos of this legislation are made effective. It is not until you get to Sections 86, 87, 88, 89 and 90 that you begin to realise what is going to happen to you. If you do not submit your child to medical examination as often as the county manager tells you, he may break down your door, may burst into your house, he may arrest you in the street, he may remove you in custody to a police station and there detain you for 24 hours. Unless you satisfy him that your answers to his questions are true—and produce independent confirmation of the information tendered to the authorised person—he may summon the Guards, who must at his instance assist him to drag you to the police station and if you resist you thereby commit a criminal offence. Now, if you produce an exemption, he is entitled to ignore it until you prove its validity.

Section 91 and all these pains and penalties are to be provided for the parents of a child in this country who are not prepared to submit it to medical examination as often as the county manager by regulation should provide. Surely we are not all in bedlam. If this House votes for a proposition of that kind, the sooner we move our deliberations to Grangegorman and ask the R.M.S. of that institution to look after us the better. Can you conceive some warble-fly inspector out of a job, appointed an "authorised person" under this Act, turning up at the door of any one of us and saying he wants to satisfy himself that all the children in the house have been submitted for inspection? You tell him to go away about his business, but he breaks down the door and forcibly enters and cross-questions you and, if you do not afford him satisfactory answers, he arrests you and brings you to the police station, where he may detain you for 24 hours.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again to-day.
An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.