Committee on Finance. - Health Bill, 1947—Report Stage.

I move amendment No. 1, which is also in the name of Deputy Mulcahy:

In page 6, Section 2, to delete lines 55 to 57.

This is really consequential on an amendment that was brought in on Committee Stage. There is no longer necessity for this definition.

It was regarded as an intrusion on the medical profession's business.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 7, line 36, Section 5, to insert before sub-section (3) the following sub-section:—

(3) Where regulations under this Act require records to be kept in relation to the health of individuals, such provision shall be made therein as the Minister thinks necessary or proper for ensuring that the parts of such records containing the names of such individuals shall be treated in a confidential manner and shall not be published save with the consent of such individuals.

The question was raised on Committee Stage with regard to professional secrecy and this amendment meets it in the best way that was in our power to draft an amendment. We assume that so far as the medical men are concerned professional secrecy will be observed as it is in their private practice, but this is to see that there is no avoidable publicity given to names as far as the administrative staff are concerned. It is a very difficult problem, for instance, if you bring in a very strict amendment for professional secrecy. Let us take a clause under which a tuberculous patient is entitled to maintenance. To bring in a strict amendment would mean that that person would not be permitted to give his name in order to get it. This amendment is to ensure that the regulations will be made in such a way that the records will not contain the names of individuals for publication, as it were, and that names will be kept in a confidential manner and will not be published save with the consent of the individual. I think it will get over some of our difficulties and cover the point raised.

The Minister seems to stress the avoidable publicity and I think he will find that he will have to go a little further than that. With an advisory council of health, he will probably find himself so closely in touch with the medical profession that any abuses or objectionable things that tend to arise will be pointed out and corrected in time. Not only have we to avoid undesirable publicity to the ordinary public but avoid the undesirable availability of private information between patient and doctor to departmental channels or official circles.

One of the things that has been troubling the medical fraternity of recent years is that there is a particular type of confidential administrative idea developing in which it is possible for information of a medical kind that ought to be kept between the doctor and the patient tending to percolate through to official channels and circles. There is a tendency in that direction which a number of doctors feel ought to be stopped. However, with the principle that is accepted here and the fact that the Minister will have an advisory council, there will be the necessary machinery to stop readily any abuses that might arise.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In page 9, line 27, before Section 13, to insert the following new section:—

(1) A health authority and a public assistance authority may, with the consent of the Minister, make and carry out an agreement for—

(a) the use by such public assistance authority of any health institution or part of a health institution, or

(b) the use by such health authority of any district institution or dispensary provided under the Act of 1939 or part of any such district institution or dispensary.

(2) Where in pursuance of an agreement made under sub-section (1) of this section, a public assistance authority make use of a health institution or part of a health institution for the purposes of a dispensary, such dispensary shall be deemed to have been duly provided under Section 42 of the Act of 1939.

(3) In this section—

the expression "the Act of 1939" means the Public Assistance Act, 1939 (No. 27 of 1939);

the expression "public assistance authority" means a public assistance authority under the Act of 1939.

This is to cover an interim period. Institutions will be transferred to the health authority as time goes on, but all the services may not go to the health authority at the same time and it may be necessary for some time to use, say, a clinic for the health authority and at the same time still use it on behalf of the public assistance authority. This section will enable the premises to be used by both until the time comes when all the services come over.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:—

In page 10, line 36, Section 15 (1), before the word "may" to insert the words "with the consent of the Minister for Finance".

We overlooked, when drafting this Section 15, inserting the usual expression "with the consent of the Minister for Finance," where a grant is being made from year to year.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In page 11, line 4, before the word "any" to insert the words "the provisions of Section 24 of the National Health Insurance Act, 1929 (No. 42 of 1929) and to."

This is really a drafting amendment. Section 24 of the National Health Insurance Act, 1929, made provision for a grant of £27,750 annually to county borough councils and county councils to cover the treatment of their members. It is necessary to ensure now that Section 16 of this Bill will not allow health authorities to charge for patients treated in accordance with that section and to ensure, as it were, that those patients will not be charged twice.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In page 11, line 5, Section 16 (1), to insert before the word "section" the words and figures "Section 27 or".

Deputy O'Higgins raised the point on the Committee Stage that there was a possibility of conflict between Section 16 and Section 27, as Section 27 laid down that there should be free treatment for everybody under the mother and child welfare scheme, while Section 16 gave power to the local authority to make charges; so we are making this subject to Section 27.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:—

In page 12, Section 21, to add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

( ) Nothing in this section shall authorise a health authority to exercise its powers under this section in respect of a child contrary to the wishes of a parent or guardian expressed in writing.

Section 21 deals with the attendance to health of children who are not pupils of schools, that is, children either too young to go to school or who are being educated at home. It proposes that the health authority shall, in accordance with regulations that the Minister proposes to make under powers conferred on him by Section 27, take steps in respect of those children—that is, those who are not pupils of any school—to:

(a) safeguard and improve their health and physical condition;

(b) arrange for their medical inspection at schools or other places;

(c) provide for their education in matters relating to health;

(d) provide for treatment of their illnesses and defects;

(e) ascertain cases of mental deficiency.

The parents are, under the Constitution and under the natural law, the persons responsible for the health of their children and for their education, both in matters of health and otherwise, and I ask that their rights and their sphere of responsibility be not invaded by a health authority. If the intention is, as I suggest it is and ought to be, to provide facilities through State co-operation or State assistance to have this work done, that is a reasonable thing. As the section stands, however, if it proposes to give the health authority power to interfere in matters that are constitutionally and by natural law the rights and responsibilities of the parents, then the Minister is only looking for trouble. He is introducing into this scheme an element of compulsion which may easily wreck a scheme which is intended to be beneficial and which is required to assist persons who want this type of assistance.

We dealt with this matter before and at this stage I merely want to refer again to Article 42 of the Constitution, paragraph (1) of which says:—

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.

Paragraph 5 of the same Article 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.

On Committee Stage, we endeavoured to remind the Minister of the circumstances which arose when the School Attendance Bill, 1942, was referred by the Uachtarán, on representations made by a number of Deputies and Senators, to the Supreme Court. It was adjudged to be unconstitutional to impose on parents the requirement to send their children to a school. Part of the judgment then given, as reported in Irish Reports, 1934, page 344, runs:—

"Clause 5 of Article 42 is limited to exceptional cases where the failure of the parents is due to physical or moral reasons and may be disregarded for the purpose of this opinion. Apart from that clause, the only right of the State to interfere in the education of children springs from Clause 3 (2). Having declared in Clause 1, that the State guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the education of their children, the Constitution, in Clause 2, expressly declares that parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes or in private schools or in schools recognised or established by the State. In Clause 3 (1) the State declared that it will not oblige parents, in violation of their conscience and lawful preference to send their children to schools established or designated by the State. So far there is nothing to indicate any right or intention on the part of the State to interfere in any way in the education of children."

I ask the Minister, with regard to a matter which is in some ways analogous to that, but, in other ways, goes further, where in the Constitution there is any indication that the State has any right or any intention to pursue children and parents into their homes and to impose on them the necessity of accepting, by positive interference by a State machine, regulations or Acts intended to safeguard and improve their ordinary health and not intended to safeguard the public generally from anything in the home which may in any way radiate danger to the public health. In the same way, I ask where there is anything in the Constitution which says there is any right or intention on the part of the State to invade the home for the purposes of medical inspection in the interests of ordinary health, for education in relation to ordinary health, for treatment in relation to either illnesses or defects, or as to the mental efficiency or otherwise of the occupants.

I feel that there is a sufficiently large amount of work to be done by the State in helping people who are interested in getting the best out of themselves in a physical way, improving their health, and, with improved personal health, improving their capacity to serve the State and to live a full personal life, and a sufficient number of people are looking for assistance to occupy the State very fully to-day without tracking down into their homes people who resent interference of that kind or people who object to their inalienable rights to look after the education of their children. I plead with the Minister to accept the amendment, and then any regulations made or any scheme of assistance set up under a health authority would be a scheme of service to be used by persons who wanted to use it.

I again remind the Minister that there are sufficient people who want to use it to occupy that machinery fully without overworking it or stirring up, in relation to a scheme intended to be beneficial and constructive, the feeling that there is positive interference with the natural rights and dignity of the individual and the sacredness of the family. If interference of that kind is allowed or tolerated now, the question arises: where will it stop? The Government had their warning in relation to the School Attendance Act. It would be disastrous, even in relation to education generally, if they should receive any reverse in the courts on a measure of this kind which would indicate that there was an influence, perhaps through ignorance, which was invading the constitutional rights of the family, because if these can be invaded and prejudiced through ignorance to-day, they could easily on some future occasion be invaded and prejudiced through malice or desire.

I should like to support this amendment. This section and Section 27 must be considered together. The actual wording of this section, isolated from Section 27, does not confer any very drastic powers, but Section 27 enables the Minister to provide that a health authority may exercise its powers according to regulations made by him. It is obvious that these regulations could seriously infringe the rights of parents, who, under the Constitution and more particularly under the religion professed by the vast majority of the people, are properly accorded the guardianship and control of their children. Faced with that situation and with these responsibilities, it is a grave interference with their rights and duties to take power in a section of this kind to make regulations which would impose either liabilities or directions on parents as to the manner in which they shall safeguard the health of their children. It is true that a number of parents may, due possibly to ignorance or to financial circumstances, fail to take the necessary precautions or to take advantage of particular health schemes which the State or the local authority has deemed, in its wisdom, feasible or beneficial to the welfare of either a class of children or children in general. However that may be, the fact is that in a matter of this kind the State should carefully consider and hesitate to interfere with the right of parents to discharge their responsibilities not merely to their own children but in so far as they are the guardians and custodians of their children, even though some parents may fail to take precautions which, because of their lack of attention or consideration, may involve other members of the community in being either adversely affected or, in the case of an infectious disease, involve infection to children or other people. I think this section, taken in conjunction with Section 27, and considered in the light of the responsibility imposed by the Constitution and the safeguards that are there inserted which were upheld by the Supreme Court in the case of the School Attendance Act, is a further encroachment or attempted encroachment on the rights and responsibilities of parents and that it does not provide sufficient safeguards and sufficient liberty for parents to exercise their responsibilities free from State control or from the direction of the local authority and that it must, therefore, inevitably have serious consequences. This section of itself is merely an enabling section. It enables the health authority to provide certain things.

It enables the health authority to look after illnesses of one kind or another. However, the section must be read in conjunction with Section 27 which empowers the Minister to make wide regulations applicable to every health authority and, in so far as the section goes, to any or every type of disease or to every matter which may affect children. It empowers the Minister to make regulations which enables the health authority to take measures or to compel parents to take measures in order to comply with whatever scheme or regulations the health authority may adopt.

I think that section, as drafted, in view of the fact that it enables the Minister to make orders without the actual orders or the limits of the orders being specified in the Bill certainly should not be passed in its present form without proper safeguards being provided in the actual section of the Bill within which the Minister must confine himself when framing these orders. It is true that these orders could seriously interfere and could in many respects affect the welfare of children and could jeopardise and encroach on the liberties of parents who are responsible and whose peculiar duty it is to safeguard the welfare of their children both spiritually and materially.

For these reasons, I think that without any safeguard such as that envisaged in the amendment, the House should refuse to pass the section as it stands, particularly in view of the wide powers which the Minister has in Section 27. An amendment of this kind would provide sufficient safeguard. This amendment would enable parents who object, who regard the particular scheme or a particular set of regulations as objectionable, who regard these regulations as an encroachment on their privileges, who object to these regulations as a serious infringement of their rights, to retain that control and that freedom of guidance and freedom of guardianship which parents have and should have under the Bill. I think the amendment is one which should meet with the approval of the Minister. Certainly a safeguard should be provided. As the section stands, in conjunction with Section 27, there is absolute discretion for the Minister as to the form of the regulations and as to the manner in which these regulations may be operated.

This amendment is put down, Sir, for the purpose of enabling all those who want to co-operate in making this part of the health code a success to co-operate enthusiastically in the work. We are living in a queer world, the tendencies of which, I feel sure, commend themselves to the Minister no more than they commend themselves to me. The tendency in the world is to reject the old Christian concept of life and substitute for it the new totalitarian approach to life which has regard for nothing but material welfare and asserts not only the right but the duty to override every moral institution which, in the judgment of the legislators for the time being, appears to hinder realisation of their new plan. That outlook is quite foreign, so far as I know, to Ministers and Deputies of this House, on whatever side they sit. The reason such strong exception is taken to the compulsory element in this section which this amendment is designed to eliminate is that were it to be accepted a breach would be made in a fundamental principle which it would be quite impossible to close and which, if availed of later on, in further Public Health Bills would mean the complete disruption of the family unit in the name of public health. I seem to detect in Deputy Cosgrave's intervention an implication that the Minister sought some of the powers which are to be limited by this amendment for the purpose of preventing the incidence of infectious disease. That is quite a mistake. The section which we are seeking to amend has nothing whatever to do with the public health problem which arises out of the suspected presence of infectious disease. There is a separate chapter in this Bill dealing with that problem.

I know that.

If the Deputy knows that, why does he say that these powers are sought for the purpose of controlling infectious diseases? They are not. If that were the case, the whole situation would be changed. The fundamental objection to this proposal is that these powers are not sought for the control of infectious disease. They are sought as the ordinary routine power of the local authority for the purpose of preventing deterioration in the health of children, of all the children, whether they are menaced with disease or not, whether there is anyprima facie case for believing that they have contracted disease. This proposal is a prophylactic proposal. The whole situation is completely changed if the public health authority finds itself in the presence of an epidemic, because the moment the public health authority finds itself charged with responsibility for the public welfare at large, fixed with knowledge that there is in the midst of the community an individual who, by moving about with an infectious disease, will probably contaminate his neighbours and put their lives in jeopardy——

The Deputy is rather expansive on this amendment, is he not?

——then the Minister has a right to weigh the public weal against the antecedent rights of the family, in just the same way as, in certain circumstances, a Government may hang a man in due process of law. Ordinarily, you have no right to take away a man's life, but there is a recognised exception to that general principle which in no way weakens the principle but which can create a situation in which human life may be legitimately taken in accordance with law. The general principle here is that the family is the natural, primary and fundamental unit group of society and is a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights antecedent and superior to all positive law. But to that there will be well-recognised exceptions where the Minister, in order to protect the public health of a countryside, may have to bring under control persons who, by their condition, constitute themselves a menace to their neighbours.

It is fatal to confuse that situation with the proposals made in the section we are seeking to amend here. The objection taken to this section is that the county manager of Roscommon can authorise a person to do a variety of things set out in Section 21. The effect of that section is that the county manager may himself, or by deputy, insist on any parent in the County Roscommon submitting his child for medical examination by a doctor appointed by the county manager or approved by the county manager as often in any given year as the county manager may determine, without any regard whatever to the views of the parent as to whether that examination is necessary or not. The Minister says that he recognises that the Constitution would prohibit that but for the fact that there is a saving clause at the end of Article 42, which 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."

Is there a single Deputy sitting here whose parents submitted him to medical examination twice a year every year from the day of his birth until his 16th year? Mine certainly did not, and I reject the contention that, because they did not, they were persons aptly described by paragraph (5) of Article 42 of the Constitution.

I want to see this Health Bill receive the cordial co-operation of everybody throughout the country. But, bear this in mind, if we refuse to pass this amendment we confer upon the local authority the right to ordain that a child will be medically examined with or without his parents' consent. Is it any far step from that to providing in the County Borough of Dublin, where a superficial examination of a child is insufficient to ensure that no concealed physical defect exists, it will be in the power of the local authority to take that child out of its parents' custody and to detain it for so long as may be in a suitably equipped clinic for the purpose of determining its state of health? Would that be an illogical or extravagant progression from the proposal here? I do not think it would. Does the House believe that we ought to do that? I am certain we ought not.

I put it most earnestly to the Minister that he is perfectly right in his anticipation that the compulsory powers contained in this Bill will never be exercised, because they will be unnecessary. He may rest perfectly assured that everything any individual can do to help him to get the Act operated on a voluntary basis will be done. In those circumstances, what on earth is the sense of placing upon a number of well-intentioned persons in this country the moral obligation to do all in their power to prevent this Bill becoming law? This one, insignificant proviso places the whole Bill in jeopardy of being referred to the Supreme Court and condemnedin toto as unconstitutional.

The Minister says he does not intend ever using the power. We say to him that the power is utterly obnoxious to us and makes it impossible for us to give that degree of co-operation that we would like to give in making the scheme a success. The Minister knows that if our prophecy that the scheme can and will be made a success without this power should prove to be unfounded, he can come back to the House in a year's time with an amending Bill and get his compulsory power in this knowledge, that, should the Supreme Court then hold that the compulsory power is unconstitutional, in condemning the portion of the Bill giving him compulsory power, it need not interfere with the other provisions of it at all. But, if you incorporate compulsory powers in this Health Bill, and if that is brought to the Supreme Court, the whole measure will fall.

Surely every canon of prudence and consideration will urge the Minister to meet the Leader of the Opposition in this matter? He has every conceivable corroborative proof that these amendments were not put down in a blocking or hindering spirit. The whole House is full of goodwill in the effort to make this Bill a success. Nobody attributes to the Minister the slightest evil intention. Why, then, should he stick his heels in the ground in defence of something that he never anticipates he will have to use, and insists on thrusting it down the throats of those who feel most deeply that it goes to the root of a most essential matter and must be tested in the courts if an attempt is made by the Oireachtas to enact it? I urge most earnestly on him to meet the leader of the Opposition in this matter.

I feel sure Deputy Dillon and Deputy Mulcahy did not put down these amendments without very serious consideration. When I was considering this section on the Committee Stage, I had a difficulty in making up my mind as to whether it was justifiable. I had difficulty in making up my mind whether the State should have compulsory powers to compel parents to submit their children to examination. I reasoned that at the present time the State has power to take drastic action in regard to cruelty to children. There is a far-reaching difference between the powers which are sought in this section and the powers the State has to deal with parents who are criminally negligent in regard to their children. The State can do nothing against a parent who ill-treats a child without first bringing the case to court and convicting the parent for cruelty. I think the number of parents in the community who are so convicted constitute a very small percentage. They would come under the heading of the exceptional cases referred to in the Constitution.

I submit that the power sought here could be exercised against parents who believe conscientiously that a medical examination of their children might cause some injury to their health. We all know that parents are fallible and may make mistakes about the health of their children; they may fail to take some precaution advised by the doctor. But the medical profession is also fallible and in the examination of a large number of children there is always the possibility of mistakes being made and infection being carried from one child to another. There may be exceptional cases, but what I have indicated is possible. A parent has a right to decide whether it would be in the child's interest to avoid such a medical examination. I have rarely been ill and during my childhood I never saw a doctor unless when I was vaccinated, and that was compulsory.

There are certain points which might be made in support of this proposal to examine children compulsorily. There are a number of defects which, if ascertained during childhood, can be corrected or eliminated. Take the case of children with deformed feet. Often by submitting to early medical attention, and perhaps surgical operation, they are cured. I think that a good public spirit and the dissemination of knowledge and information to parents on these matters would be helpful and that every parent, with very few exceptions, will take advantage of whatever free treatment is available.

We are making a very far-reaching change, in providing such a large amount of medical treatment free of all cost. I think that in itself, together with wide education on health matters, will have the effect of bringing these services to practically all children within the State. The few criminally neglectful parents will, in most cases, come under the scope of the law under other headings. I know, as practically every other Deputy knows, that you find in almost every village parish some parents who are criminally neglectful of their children but sooner or later either the Guards or the inspectors under the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act get after these parents. They are brought into court and eventually the children are taken from them or they are made to mend their ways. I think this amendment is, therefore, very desirable and that we should accept it.

I was approaching this amendment on the basis that I thought it applied only to Section 21 but I am afraid from some of the speeches made that some Deputies seem to be under the impression that it applies also to Section 24 dealing with the compulsory medical examination of children. I should like first of all to ask Deputies to read Section 21 and see the ridiculous position in which we should be placed if this amendment were adopted. For instance, Section 21 says that a health authority shall provide all facilities, as it were, all the machinery necessary to ensure the health of the children. That is a very natural obligation to put on a health authority because if we do not enact that section the health authority may say: "It is not our business to look after children." We, therefore, must have a section of this kind to show the health authority that it is their business and that they must look after the health of the children.

We find in this section some little detail. We have first of all the provision under paragraph (a) that the health authority shall safeguard and improve the health and physical condition of the children. Suppose you were to visualise some of the things that might be done under that paragraph, I should imagine that a thing like a free milk scheme would be one matter that would come under it, that they should try to improve the health of the children by supplying nutrition of that kind. Again they might try to improve the health of the children by hygiene. A medical inspector might come to the school and might say: "There is not enough air in the school; you should allow for more ventilation." If we accept Deputy Mulcahy's amendment the parents of a child might say: "I am not going to permit the window to be opened." The school could not, therefore, be ventilated because the parent had not given permission for the window to be opened. This is a very general section indicating the things that should be done and the amendment proposed is a very dangerous amendment inasmuch, as if you have a crotchety or disagreeable parent, it would enable him to make trouble in general.

The next paragraph in the section says that the health authority shall arrange for the medical inspection of children at schools or other places. That obviously does not refer to compulsory inspection because there is a special section dealing with that matter, Section 24. This section merely puts an obligation on the health authority to arrange for the inspection of children. They must provide a medical man to do the job, pay him for doing it and make all the necessary arrangements set out in other sections, with regard to getting the manager's permission to get the children examined in the school or elsewhere if it is convenient. There is an obligation on the health authority to do all these things. Much of the discussion has been directed towards the question of compulsory inspection but that, as I say is dealt with in Section 24, and I do not think it right that it should be introduced into a discussion on the amendments which deal with Section 21 and Section 22.

Section 21 also provides that the health authority shall provide for the education of children in matters relating to health. Again everybody will agree that if we can ever reach the stage where we would be in a position to instruct young people in general rules of hygiene, how to keep themselves healthy and avoid disease, we will have achieved quite a lot. It may happen that you may have an enthusiastic medical man who will undertake to give an occasional lecture to the school children on matters of that kind, but what will be the position of that enthusiastic medical man if he goes into a school and a child comes up to him and presents a written objection from his parents that he objects to the lecture being given?

All that could happen, if we accept this amendment, is that the lecture must stop and that the doctor must not go on. He must not go on until he makes sure that there are no other children who object to the lecture and until he gives those who do object an opportunity of going out before he goes on with the lecture.

The section also says that the health authority shall provide for the treatment of children's illnesses and defects. All it says is that the health authority must provide for such treatment, but it does not say that any child must accept the treatment. That is again dealt with in another section.

It says that the health authority may do all these things in accordance with regulations made under Section 27 of the Act.

That is under this part of the Act. The section goes on to say that the health authority shall ascertain cases of mental deficiency. This section merely imposes an obligation on the health authority in regard to the services which they must provide. Other sections deal with the rights of parents. For instance, one section lays it down that if an order is made that all parents must submit their children for medical treatment, that is the law, but another section lays it down that if the parents object to the child receiving such treatment, then the child cannot be treated. That applies in regard to immunisation.

If a parent objects to having a child immunised the child cannot be immunised, except in the case of an epidemic where a general order is made. These amendments therefore would be very doubtful in their effect. If the amendments were accepted, they might raise a great deal of trouble and I do not see that they could do very much good. I want also to point out that the question of compulsory inspection is a matter to be dealt with under Section 24. As regards treatment, I think it is perfectly plain that a child cannot be treated against the will of its parents.

Where is that plain?

The Deputy will agree that there would have to be an express provision to say that the child must accept treatment before it could be enforced just as there is an express provision that medical inspection, under certain circumstances, is compulsory and as there is an express provision that immunisation under certain circumstances is compulsory. As it is, detention in hospital is compulsory in certain circumstances, but we would never assume that we could detain a person in hospital or that we could immunise a child compulsorily or even inspect a child compulsorily unless an express provision was put into the Bill. There is no such express provision put in with regard to treatment.

Therefore, there is no doubt whatever that there is no power to treat a child against his will. I am perfectly clear on that point. The Bill is being discussed on the basis that we may, in certain circumstances, have compulsory inspection, but in no circumstances compulsory treatment as such. We can have compulsory immunisation in certain circumstances. I want to make it clear to Deputies that there need be no fear whatever that treatment will be pressed on any child where the parent or the guardian objects. Therefore, as regards treatment the amendment is not necessary. As far as inspection is concerned, Section 24 must be taken as the section dealing with compulsory inspection. Why I object to this amendment with regard to inspection is that it might have the effect of minimising at least the power under Section 24 if it were accepted. There are two points, therefore, which the Deputy should keep in mind. If he still argues the point against compulsory inspection, that should really be done under Section 24 and not under this section. If he is afraid of compulsory treatment, there is no need to be afraid because there is no provision under the Bill for compulsory treatment. These amendments, if accepted, might be very dangerous. They might give rise to a great deal of trouble and annoyance to a medical inspector in the case of a disagreeable parent who would raise objections to everything that he might do in the school in the way of providing proper hygiene, in the giving of lectures to children as to how to avoid disease and so on, or as to making the best arrangements that he could with regard to medical inspection and with regard to the various other things that may be done by a medical officer of health. A parent who was up against that officer could make life impossible for him practically if these amendments were carried. I put it to the Deputy that they are not really necessary except on the one point of compulsory inspection.

Under Section 27 the Minister is taking an omnibus power to make regulations as to the extent and manner in which a health authority will carry out its powers. When you relate that back to paragraph (d) under Section 21 it surely will be admitted that it enables the health authority to assume that the regulations were so framed as to enable it to carry out any manner of treatment to the extent laid down.

I think the Deputy will agree that the words "provide for" makes it a very different matter. Where we mean to use compulsion, we have put in a section each time to deal with it.

A parent might have great difficulty in substantiating the case that he could not accept treatment.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 15; Níl, 40.

  • Bennett, George C.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Halliden, Patrick J.
  • Keating, John.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • Roddy, Martin.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Brennan, Martin.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Burke, Patrick (Co. Dublin.)
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Carter, Thomas.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Crowley, Honor Mary.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Friel, John.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Healy, John B.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lydon, Michael F.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Skinner, Leo B.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Ua Donnchadha, Dómhnall.
  • Walsh, Laurence.
  • Walsh, Richard.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Doyle and Be nnett; Níl: Deputies Ó Cíosáin and Ó Briain.
Amendment declared negatived.

I move amendment No. 8:—

In page 12, line 26, Section 22, to insert before sub-section (2), a new sub-section as follows:—

( ) Nothing in this section shall authorise a health authority to exercise its powers under this section in respect of a child contrary to the wishes of a parent or guardian expressed in writing.

I move this amendment for the purpose principally of again emphasising the idea that is contained in it and of commenting on what the Minister said on the previous amendment. The Minister suggests that, to put a sub-section such as this in the Bill, requiring that a health authority shall not take any action, cannot "do"—the word used in sections 21 and 22—any of the things specified there contrary to the consent of the parent, is to some extent unnecessary and may be dangerous. The objection that the Minister takes to the amendment can only arise out of the obscurity of the terms in which the section is drafted because Section 22 does say that a health authority shall, in accordance with regulations made, do certain things—safeguard and improve their health, arrange for medical inspection, provide education, provide treatment and ascertain mental deficiency.

"Provide for treatment" is a very different thing from "provide treatment".

There is obscurity there if what the Minister says is right, but the Minister rather implies that education will be given and he indicates that he does not want the education which is given in a general way to be upset by a cranky parent. The Minister indicated that quite possibly the intervention of a cranky parent might mean that an inspector who was giving educational instruction to a class would have to stop the class to ascertain whether there were any other parents that object. My amendment is quite explicit. It says:—

"Nothing in this section shall authorise a health authority to exercise its powers under this section in respect of a child contrary to the wishes of a parent or guardian expressed in writing."

The Minister has made up his mind on this particular matter. He has an outlook on the matter that I do not quite appreciate, but it makes me infer that this section is slovenly and very loosely drafted. Where we are dealing with the natural and constitutional rights of a person, related to the personality of the person, whether it is a child or a parent, we cannot afford to-day to be slovenly in the terms of our legislation. What the Minister says tempts me to read out briefly from the Irish Law Reports on the matter of the School Attendance Bill, 1942. The summary in the report of the Supreme Court's decision in that particular matter is given on page 334 and says:—

"The court was of opinion that Section 4 of the Bill was repugnant to the Constitution because:—

(1) The Minister, construing the section in a reasonable manner, might require a higher standard of education than could properly be prescribed as a minimum standard under Article 42, clause 3, paragraph 2 of the Constitution;

(2) the standard contemplated by the section might vary from child to child and accordingly was not such a standard of general application as the Constitution contemplated;

(3) in the case of a child who had reached the prescribed age of six years and was being educated at home or in a private school, a certain time must necessarily elapse before the Minister could give his certificate under Section 4 and the parent would be in default in the interval and liable to the prescribed penalties. Under sub-section (1) of the section not only the education but also the manner in which such child is receiving it must be certified by the Minister, and this was not warranted by the Constitution."

In the various matters referred to in this section, all kinds of different standards and methods of application may apply, but the section does say that the health authority shall do these things—that is, safeguard and improve the health and physical condition and make certain provisions and ascertain certain things. In respect of the children whom we deal with under Section 21, it can do these things only by going into the home and invading the rights and responsibilites of the parents.

In Section 22, it intends to deal with school children. I appreciate the Minister's point that there is a more definite and explicit arrangement in Section 24, that is, the inspection. Nevertheless, a danger attaches to this section—interference with education, on the one hand, and interference with inspection on the other hand, and that general type of interference that may be contemplated under "safeguarding and improving their health and physical condition." That is too general and covers too many things not to be very serious and perhaps dangerous when dealing with the sacredness of the individual personality and the responsibility of parents in relation to the family. Therefore, I again press here that, in the form in which this section now is, the only safeguard there can be now for the things we wish to safeguard is the insertion of the amendment I wish to insert.

Again I want to emphasise that we wish to see this Health Bill function satisfactorily and secure the cordial and enthusiastic co-operation of every person in the State. It cannot do that if it violates the fundamental convictions of a considerable number of well-intentioned and reasonably intelligent people. Paragraph (a) of Section 22 directs the health authority to safeguard and improve— note "improve"—the health and physical condition of these children. Now, all this amendment seeks to do is to say that a parent who, under God's Providence, has brought this child into the world and accepted responsibility for it, may say, if he wishes, to the bureaucrat: "I do not choose to allow you or the State to arrogate to yourselves the duty which I undertook with my eyes open when I conferred the Sacrament of Matrimony upon my wife and my wife conferred that Sacrament upon me in the presence of the Church, to look after the children that the Lord may send us as so great a blessing on our marriage." We are here told that any person in this country who makes that rejoinder to a civil servant or the officer of a local authority commits a criminal offence punishable by a fine and imprisonment. I want say with full deliberation, and to pledge my word, that I will say it; and if there is any attempt made to impose a penalty on me, I will go to jail and stay in jail so long as any bureaucrat in this country makes that claim upon me.

If this Bill passes through the Dáil and Seanad, if I can get nobody else to join me, I will petition the President myself to consult the Council of State with a view to referring it to the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of that proviso. I do not want to have it said again that every Act passed by this House must be constitutional if it has never been challenged in the Supreme Court. There are few individuals in this State with wealth at their disposal sufficient to maintain an individual test of the constitutionality of a statute of this Parliament in the Supreme Court—but to the Supreme Court this Bill will go, if the petition of one humble citizen of this State is heard.

In the name of common sense, what is the use of importing into legislation of this kind so acrimonious, so fundamental, so radical an assault on a principle of that sort, for which men are prepared to die, when it has absolutely no relation to the practical working of the Bill? Surely that is obtuseness carried to the realm which makes intelligent co-operation impossible? Could any body of Deputies in the world, sitting in Opposition to a democratic Government, have done more or said more to assure the Minister of Health of their desire to make his task pleasant and effective? Could Deputies in any democratic Opposition in the world have gone further to extol the Minister's excellence in having brought forward the general scheme of this Bill and in having studied previous draft legislation in order to remove from it matters of bitter controversy than the Opposition here? Right from the very beginning, we suggested to the Minister that this particular facet of compulsion which very probably strayed into the draft Bill unobserved by himself or his advisers could be very easily put to rights.

There has been no desire on this side in any way to suggest that this course is being adopted by the Minister in bad faith or in a desire to take improper powers, or that he has any improper conception of the fundamental principles which in fact we know he shares with us. Yet we are met with a dead blank wall of opposition and told that the thing is going to be left there, although this whole Bill, which everybody wants, which everybody is anxious to support and to help to make work, is put in peril of revocation because of a power which the Minister himself says he does not want and will never use. I do not want to make acrimony bitter or to say a word that will make it more difficult for the Minister to consider the views being put up to him, but it is a trial on human patience to be told that simply because something has been written in a draft Bill which really is not necessary, which never will be used and which was put therein terrore will not be taken out, although the Minister is fixed with notice that rational fellow citizens would cheerfully surrender their liberty and go to jail rather than submit to a power which the Minister says he never contemplates using.

Of course, he may never contemplate using it. He is surrounded by all the paraphernalia of consultation and advice, on both the political and the administrative planes which a Minister, sitting in the centre of a Government Department, has available to him, but what guarantee has he that the county manager in X county will not try to use it? It may be true that, should knowledge be brought to him that such an attempt is about to be made, he would intervene at once and say: "Do not use these compulsory powers"; but suppose knowledge is not brought to him, suppose a local authority embarks on a campaign of this kind and there is a clash. Suppose the business goes into court and some woman is fined. Suppose a public-spirited body of citizens ask the permission of the court to finance her appeal to the Supreme Court and suppose the Supreme Court declares the whole thing to be unconstitutional. Then, bang goes the whole of this code. In the name of common sense, why not agree to take these compulsory powers out of this Bill and let this Bill pass through the Oireachtas and the President on its merits and then bring in a separate Bill providing compulsory powers which we can dispose of on its merits? If the second Bill falls on its merits in this Oireachtas, or on its constitutionality in the Supreme Court, the main body of the legislation stands, but this method of proceeding puts the whole thing in jeopardy, a jeopardy in which nobody wants to put it. If argument has any force at all or reason a right to be heard, can the Minister resist that proposal?

I press him strongly in his capacity as a politician, which I regard as the most honourable profession a person in this country could have, as somebody who is concerned to think as his neighbours think and not exclusively as bureaucrats and administrators think, to say that, whatever the administrative advantages of these provisions are, politically, from the point of view of the people's welfare, spiritual, temporal and physical, they do not influence him. I press him strongly to say: "Whatever administrative value they may have, as the political head of the Department, I condemn them and the code must be made to work without them on the traditional system which obtains in this country of making available for everybody, in so far as our resources permit, the best we can offer, but constraining none to accept that which they do not want to accept".

I do not want to add very much to what I said on the previous amendment. This is the same principle. I pointed out on the previous amendment that I had no idea that the question of compulsory inspection would be discussed on this amendment, because Sections 21 and 22 do not mention compulsory inspection. It arises on Section 24 and I did not think it would be discussed on this amendment. I had intended discussing the amendment on its merits, as it might be applied in Sections 21 and 22, and I pointed out that, in my opinion, it could cause a great deal of inconvenience and make it practically impossible——

Did the Minister say that inspection does not arise?

It does not refer to compulsory inspection, in my opinion. I said that my objection to the previous amendment was that it might cause a great deal of embarrassment and trouble for the medical inspector, without getting anything in the way of any positive advantage, if it were inserted. That was my reason for arguing against the previous amendment and the same applies to this amendment. I want to make one correction. Deputy Dillon said more than once that I said that compulsory inspection would never be necessary. I did not say that. I said I hoped it would not be necessary, but I argued at great length that if there are certain parents who will not submit their children for inspection, in all probability these will be the families in regard to which inspection is most necessary, and that therefore these powers would be used. I should say that a county manager cannot use these powers unless he is authorised to do so, because an Order must be made by the Minister applying these compulsory powers to the whole country, to a county or to a district, and nobody can exercise these powers unless that Order is made. I do not want to go into the question of compulsory inspection at this stage because I do not think it arises on this amendment.

I was never examined twice a year by a doctor between the ages of one and 16. Was the Minister?

Does he feel, looking back, that there was any lack of duty or zeal on the part of his parents?

Surely the Deputy is not going to argue on those lines? It must have occurred to somebody to use the same argument when compulsory education was brought in—to say that his father had never gone to school and he was quite a good man.

The Minister's parents and mine were rational, responsible people and it would be very odd if they had never given us any education in our own homes. It would make my eyes open if the Minister told me that his parents had never given him any education as it would make his open if I told him that about my parents, but does it seem odd to him, in retrospect, that, with all modern knowledge and so on, our respective parents did not think it necessary to expose us to medical examination twice a year, that they, as average parents, reasonably well-informed, did not feel it necessary? It was not necessary. Surely they were not guilty of moral turpitude.

The Deputy must remember that that is not the type of family we have in mind under these compulsory regulations. I knew of cases myself where children were neglected, and very much so, because they did not get medical attention in time. There was a very high mortality in some families I knew of because precautions were not taken in time. That is the type of family we have in mind.

But why apply these powers to the whole community in order to deal with these exceptional. cases?

Can the Minister say if this law will apply to all sections of the community? I know that, on many occasions in the past, some people— especially the rich people—could get away if their child had a certain fever and keep it at home, whereas a poor man's child would be taken to hospital immediately in an ambulance. I want to know if this compulsory examination will apply to all sections of the community—rich and poor alike.

The Minister is not able to give an answer to that.

It does, of course, apply to everybody. Every law, as far as I know, applies to everybody.

Except the Sinn Féin Funds Bill.

Amendment put and negatived.

I move amendment No. 9:—

In page 12, to delete Section 22 (5) and (6), lines 37 to 51, and in page 13, to delete Section 22 (7), lines 1 to 5, and substitute the following four sub-sections:—

(5) (a) This sub-section applies to—

(i) a school which is the subject of an Order under sub-section (3) of this section, and

(ii) a national school which is a certified school.

(b) Subject to sub-section (6) of this section, any expenses incurred by a health authority in providing, under sub-section (1) of this section, treatment, medicines, preparations or appliances for a pupil of a school to which this sub-section applies shall be repaid to the health authority by, in case the school (whether a national school or not) is a certified school, the managers thereof or, in any other case, the school manager, and shall be recoverable by the health authority from the said managers or school manager (as the case may be) as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(6) Sub-section (5) of this section shall not apply in relation to—

(a) the pupils of a school the subject of an Order, under sub-section (3) of this section, which exempts, in pursuance of sub-section (4) of this section, the school from the liability to repay expenses incurred by a health authority, or

(b) any pupil of a certified school not sent thereto pursuant to an order made by a court under the Children Acts, or

(c) any pupil of a school for whose maintenance the health authority is liable.

(7) Any sum payable by virtue of sub-section (5) of this section in respect of pupils of a certified school shall be repaid to the managers thereof by the local authority liable under the Children Acts for the maintenance of those pupils and shall be recoverable by the said managers from the local authority as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(8) In this section—

the expression "the Children Acts" means the Children Acts, 1908 to 1941;

the expressions "certified school" and "the managers" have the same respective meanings as they have in the Children Acts.

I have been in consultation with the Minister for Education about a certain point with which I had not time to deal on the Committee Stage. He pointed out to me that children in certified schools who went in voluntarily, that is, who were not sent in by the courts and were not, therefore, paid for by the local authority, would come under this Bill for inspection, treatment and so forth. If the Bill were left as it stands now they would have to be inspected and treated at a cost to the manager of the school who very often has not a lot of money to spare. The amendment we propose to insert here will alter that. The position now will be that where the children are sent in by a local authority the cost of inspection and treatment will be borne by the local authority. Where such is not the case the cost of inspection and treatment will be borne by the health authority. Therefore, the manager does not incur any particular expense under this Bill.

I do not know whether I misread the Minister's amendment or not but I feel that it is lifting the veil on a section that seemed to pass without any discussion during the Committee Stage. I would like to be put right on the matter. As amended, (b) of sub-section (5) reads:

"Subject to sub-section (6) of this section, any expenses incurred by a health authority in providing, under sub-section (1) of this section, treatment, medicines, preparations or appliances for a pupil of a school to which this sub-section applies shall be repaid to the health authority by, in case the school (whether a national school or not) is a certified school, the managers thereof or, in any other case, the school manager, and shall be recoverable by the health authority from the said managers or school manager (as the case may be) as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction."

It seems to me that the Minister's amendment draws attention to a matter that must have been overlooked on the Committee Stage, that is, that where treatment, or medicines, or preparations, or appliances of any kind, arising out of an inspection of the school, whether national or otherwise, are provided for the ordinary pupils going to that school the health authorities propose to recover the cost of these from the manager. The Minister's explanation now, if I understood him correctly, did not seem to suggest or to disclose that. I suggest that that is the effect of this section now and as it was passed originally.

Does the Deputy mean that he thinks there will be a levy on the parish priest for all the treatment given to the children?

That is the only reading I can take out of it—from the original section and from the amendment.

The parish priest of Crumlin will have a formidable bill to pay.

It will be repaid under sub-section (7).

Could the Minister tell us if that means the local authorities go into Crumlin Parish National Schools——

I think there is, perhaps, some misunderstanding about the definition of "national school". I believe industrial schools and a lot of these other schools are legally national schools, so it applies to them all. Now we are bringing in a section to recoup the manager.

Could the Minister say whether the ordinary national school is excepted?

Sub-section 5 (a) applies to "a school which is the subject of an Order under sub-section (3) of this section."

——and "a national school which is a certified school."

There is no 5 (a) of this section in the Bill.

It is in the amendment.

Is there a distinction between——

Sub-section (3) says that

"Whenever the Minister is not satisfied that the provision made in any school, other than a national school, for the matters mentioned in sub-section (1) of this section is adequate he may by Order apply this section to such school."

That is, he may apply the section to the school that is brought in and that is not a national school. Do I understand that sub-section (5), as amended here, only applies to a school which is not a national school on the one hand, and is brought in under the scheme, and a school which is a certified school—a certified school being a school that is not a normal national school—and that it is only in the case of private schools brought in, on the one hand and certain specified schools that are industrial schools, on the other hand, that a bill may be sent?

Yes, that is right.

This section now envisages, if the amendment is inserted, that if the County Manager of Kildare makes up his mind that the medical services in Clongowes Wood College are not adequate, he can go in by deputy and arrange for such medical attention for the pupils of the college as he thinks are adequate for the purposes of Section 22, expend such moneys as he thinks proper and recover them by way of simple contract debt from the rector of the college, whether the rector considers the precautions taken as being excessive or not. I quite agree with the Minister that the likelihood of that happening is as remote as he or I could well conceive; but then the trouble is that we are making a law, not for to-day or tomorrow or the day after, but a law to be a permanent feature of our Statutes and God knows who will sit in the Minister's place in ten years' time. Do we want to provide that the County Manager of Kildare can go in and lay down what he thinks right for the purposes of sub-sections (a) to (e) in Clongowes Wood College and send the bill to the rector, which he can recover from the rector as a contract debt without even consulting him as to the adequacy of what was being done before the public authority intervened? It is not as forbidding a position as the one about going into a man's house and taking his child away; but it is a pretty drastic provision that the county manager should be equipped with powers of that kind. It is nothing at all as bad as the power to enable him to interfere with family life, but it is going much further than I ever thought this Parliament would think it necessary to go for the protection of public health.

Of course, the Deputy realises that under this Section 22 the inspection, first of all, applies to national schools and then to any other school where the Minister makes an Order. The county manager could not do it unless the Minister makes an Order. The Deputy will see what might happen. The county medical officer of health, or perhaps the district medical officer of health would report that such-and-such a school should be examined because he was not satisfied that things were going as well as they should. That would come up to the Minister for consideration and he would make a special Order that an examination should be held in that school.

There will be no general Order made that this Bill applies to secondary schools?

Then that is all right.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No 10 is related to amendment No. 11. Would it be in order to take No. 11 first?

They can be taken together.

We can discuss the matter on amendment No. 10. then. I move:—

In page 13, Section 24 (4), line 27, to delete the word "granted" and substitute therefor the word "sought".

Sub-section (5) of this section says:—

"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."

I sought by an exploratory amendment in Committee to see what exactly the Minister had in mind on this matter and suggested that a certificate provided by the parent that the child was under the general care and supervision of an ordinary registered medical practitioner should be sufficient. But when the Minister discussed the type of policy that he has in mind and that a parent might be compelled to provide twice a year, in respect of each of his children, a certificate of that kind, I saw the absurdity of my suggested amendment. I now ask to amend this section so that it will read that exemption shall be granted where there is produced to such officer a certificate signed by a parent or guardian that he objects to such medical examination or that the child is under the general care and supervision of a registered medical practitioner. It boils down to this, that, where parents are notified that arrangements have been made for medical inspection and they are asked to send their children for such medical inspection, it will be a sufficient exemption for them to have written to the appropriate officer stating that they objected to submitting their children to such medical examination.

Everything that I have stated with regard to the authority, responsibility and inalienable rights of the parents I am sure is perfectly clear to everybody in the House and to the Minister, and I move as a matter of very high policy related to the rights of parents and children and the general sacredness of the individual that, when a parent responds to an invitation to send his children for medical examination by a State-appointed medical officer, it will be sufficient to exempt him from that inspection if he writes formally and says that he objects and that he does not wish to send his children for medical inspection.

I want to impress on the Minister that there is a very considerable amount of work to be done in regard to this matter. He is proposing to extend a service initiated some years ago, a service which has gradually developed and extended and has increasingly won favour with all sections of the people. That work is still in its development stage, there is plenty of room still for extension and it should be done in the way suggested here. Let us improve the service; let us make the value of the service better known. But do not turn officers who are carrying out this work into a new kind of medical R.I.C., which will simply bring about reaction, not only on the part of the people who really and conscientiously want to assume responsibility in their own way for looking after their children's health, but will inevitably bring about a reaction or objection on the part of the people who, while welcoming a voluntary service, would object to interference of this kind.

Sub-section (4) says:—

"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."

I want to have the word "granted" changed into "sought", so that the sub-section shall read:—

"unless an exemption from the inspection has been sought under sub-section (5) of this section."

I submit that it should be sufficient, in the case of a parent, that he would have sought exemption from this inspection to be regarded as being exempt.

We have dealt with this principle of compulsory inspection so often that I do not think it is necessary to go into it again and take up the time of the Dáil by doing so. We have made our position clear in that matter and I think the amendment would have the effect of vitiating the whole section. I make this appeal to Deputies, that this section may be very necessary in certain places and only at certain times. Deputies know that this section will be put into operation only when an Order is made by the Minister. I made it clear on Committee Stage that I will try to get on without it, and I hope I will succeed. If it comes to application, it may be necessary to apply it to a couple of counties, not every county, and when we get a good response, when we get people into the habit of sending their children for inspection, we can then withdraw the Order. It may be necessary to operate the Order in certain counties for a certain time and then, when we have got things moving, the compulsory Order may be no longer necessary. I would not be surprised that, after five or six years, there will be no necessity for it, because parents will come to recognise the great value of having their children inspected and advice given to them with regard to their children's health. I am very much afraid that we may have to use it here and there to get things moving.

There are really very few parents who would refuse, either through neglect or for some very obscure reason, to send their children for an inspection of this kind—maybe the very families that we would be most anxious to inspect. Deputies know that some parents have a very peculiar attitude about disease. If one of the children is suspected of having tuberculosis, or if a child is deformed, the parents are somewhat shy and are not prepared to make these matters public and they will not bring the children in. They do not realise that they are doing irreparable injury to the child by not submitting it for examination. I think that type of thing will be got over in time, just as people have not the same attitude now towards tuberculosis as they had 20 years ago. Twenty years ago tuberculosis was concealed practically everywhere it occurred. Nowadays there is very little of that concealment, but there is a little of it left and, in the circumstances, I believe we may need those powers at certain times. If this amendment were agreed to, the section would not be any use at all.

If a parent gets a certificate signed by a doctor that the children have been examined within the prescribed period, they are not then obliged to undergo this examination.

Yes, that is right.

If the parent is prepared to take precautions there is no compulsion?

The medical certificate will be sufficient.

If a person with half a dozen children is able to pay a private doctor twice a year for inspecting his children, he can get out of it?

That is true, but I think you will find, with this medical officer arrangement, that the great majority of dispensary doctors are very kind men —I will say that for them— and if there is a difficulty or diffidence on the part of the parent until we get the thing moving, the doctors will be prepared to go to the parent's house and examine the children there. They will not make this inspection so terrible.

In that case the parent would not be liable?

Not necessarily liable for fees—they do not always charge fees, as you know.

Question put: "That the word proposed to be deleted stand."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 41; Níl, 16.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Brennan, Martin.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Burke, Patrick (Co. Dublin).
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Carter, Thomas.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Crowley, Honor Mary.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Friel, John.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Healy, John B.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lydon, Michael F.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Loghlen, Peter J.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Mary B.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Skinner, Leo B.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Ua Donnchadha, Dómhnall.
  • Walsh, Laurence.

Níl

  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Halliden, Patrick J.
  • Keating, John.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • Roddy, Martin.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Kissane and Ó Briain; Níl: Deputies Doyle and McMenamin.
Amendment put, and declared lost.
Question declared carried. Amendment accordingly negatived.

I move amendment No. 11:—

In page 13, Section 24 (5), to delete, in lines 31 and 32, all words after the word "certificate" and substitute therefor the words: "signed by a parent or guardian stating that he objects to such medical examination or that the child is under the general care and supervision of a registered medical practitioner".

Everything that I have said on the previous amendment applies equally to this.

Amendment put and negatived.

I move amendment No. 12:—

In page 13, Section 24, to delete lines 40 to 45, sub-section (7).

Compared with the amendment which was defeated, when I moved to delete sub-section (6) of this section, sub-section (7), which I seek to delete now, is perhaps a small thing, but nevertheless I think the amendment should be moved. Sub-section (6) says that a person who contravenes sub-section (4) of the section, that is, if the person does not send his child for examination, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £5 in the case of a first offence and to a fine not exceeding £10 in the case of a second or subsequent offence. I sought to delete that in Committee, but my amendment was defeated. Sub-section (7) goes on to say that every person who, in connection with an application for an exemption under sub-section (5) of the section, makes any statement which is to his knowledge false or misleading in any material respect, shall be guilty of an offence under the section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £20. We have had school inspection in this country. It has been appreciated and the Minister wants to extend it. He wants to extend it in such a way that it will be obligatory universally in any place where it is put into operation. The provisions of the section give him powers to put it into operation for the whole country, but even as it stands he will have to allow exemption if a certificate by a registered medical practitioner is submitted stating that he has examined the child. If either the parent who submits that certificate, or the doctor who gives it, makes any statement which, to his knowledge, is false or misleading under sub-section (7), he renders himself liable to a penalty of £20. A sub-section like that at this stage of the development of the plan is almost an indictment of the plan itself. I am moving to delete the sub-section because I think the section will be better without it.

It must be admitted, I think, that there is the danger that an unscrupulous parent might present a medical certificate which was not, in fact, a medical certificate at all. It may be a forged document so that we must have power to deal with a case like that. I think it is very unlikely that the maximum penalty would ever be inflicted. If, however, it was a grave case, a case in which, say, the certificate submitted was a forgery, the maximum penalty might be justified.

If that were done, it would be a criminal act, and the person concerned would render himself liable to prosecution under another Act. Why let off a person like that with a fine of £20? Surely there is no need for the sub-section?

Is the Deputy pressing the amendment?

Yes, to the extent that I want the House to indicate that it does not accept this sub-section.

I move amendment No. 13:—

In page 14, Section 27, line 33, to insert after the word "may" the words "after consultation with the National Health Council".

The regulations which the Minister proposes to make under this Bill deal with safeguarding and improving the health of children, the safeguarding and improving of their physical condition, the arrangements for medical inspection, the carrying out of medical inspection and of education processes in relation to health, the treatment of illnesses, defects, etc. Superimposed on that is some kind of a geographical consideration that I have not been able to understand. That is to say, the Minister may, as regards any regulations that he makes in regard to any one of these things, apply them to every health authority or to a health authority of a particular class or to some particular health authority. He may also differentiate between different areas and different classes of areas in the application of provisions of this kind. While the geography part of the business may have some concern for the National Health Council, I suggest that the actual type of treatment as well as the type of provisions that are dealt with in Sections 21 and 24 are such that the Minister ought not to publish his regulations until he has had previous consultation with the National Health Council. I urge that in view of the things that are at issue, and of the relationship that exists between the medical practitioner and the individual as well as of the rights and integrity of the family under this particular section. The Minister should fortify himself by having consultation with the National Health Council before he makes any regulations under this part of the Bill.

I should like to assure Deputies that my intention is to submit the regulations generally to the National Health Council. I expect that a big volume of regulations will be made if and when the Bill goes through the Oireachtas. My intention is to have these regulations submitted to the National Health Council. I have said that here before. I have also said it in public to the medical men themselves. The difficulty is that, from time to time, it may be necessary to make some small amendment. It may not be of great substance, but it may be necessary. In a case such as that, it would be very unfair, as I have already explained, to make these men come together to consider a small matter of that kind. They will be very busy men, and it would hardly be fair to ask them to meet more than once every two months. I can assure the Deputy that there will be no desire on my part to avoid putting matters before the National Health Council. It would, however, make the position very difficult if an amendment like this were to apply to all cases.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 14:—

In page 15, Section 30, lines 23 and 24, to delete sub-section (2).

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:—

In page 15, Section 30 (7), line 51, to insert before the word "vessels" the words "large public service vehicles (as defined in Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act, 1933 (No. 11 of 1933)), vehicles for the conveyance of passengers by rail,".

Under the sub-section, regulations relating to vessels or aircraft cannot be made, save after consultation with the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The Minister has since made an appeal to me that I should also include vehicles for the conveyance of passengers by rail and large public service vehicles. Public service vehicles are defined as vehicles for the carriage of passengers to seat not less than six passengers, as well as the driver. A private taxi does not come under the definition.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:—

In page 16, Section 30 (8), to delete all the words from "for the" in line 2 to the end of the sub-section and substitute the following:—

(a) for the giving of notice of the time and place at which a person will be required to submit himself or the parent of a child will be required to submit such child to any such specified measures, and

(b) for the giving of information to such person or such parent of the right of exemption under Section 31 of this Act.

Deputy Mulcahy made the point on Committee Stage that, although we provide that a person may object to immunisation, he might not know his full rights. This amendment meets that point, so that when we give notice to the person that he should submit his child for immunisation, we shall also inform him of his rights under the section—that he also has the right to object.

This amendment is in the right spirit.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:—

In page 19, Section 37, lines 40 to 54, to delete paragraph (g) of sub-section (2).

I think that amendments Nos. 18 and 19 might be discussed with this. I want to make clear, so that Deputies may know exactly, what I am agreeing to by taking out Section 17. Paragraph (g), which I am proposing to delete, deals with matters in addition to disinfection or disinfestation, medical examination of the patient and the taking of blood or other specimens for examination or test, the inoculation or immunisation of the patient. As regards blood tests, it is, of course, as Deputies know, a very harmless operation to perform on a person to take a drop of blood for examination and I do not think a patient ever objects. In fact, he hardly feels any pain or anything like that in the operation.

Did you ever have it done?

I often did it.

Ah yes, but did you ever have it done on the top of your finger?

I do not think I ever had. As regards immunisation, I think immunisation is provided for already in the Bill. Therefore, it is not necessary to put it in here. We have provided that immunisation can be carried out and that the person can object but that in the case of emergency, such as a very severe epidemic, these objections must be overruled. Therefore, it need not be put in here. The thing that worried me more than anything else in this matter was the general power of the medical officer:—

"to cause any precautions to be taken in relation to the patient which in his opinion are necessary or expedient."

That might, as I say, be a cause of worry to some Deputies although we all agree, I think, that the medical officer can be relied upon to use the utmost discretion and not to do more than is necessary with any patient and not to put any patient to unnecessary pain and suffering. Still, it might be held to be a very wide power and I thought it better to take this sub-section out.

That brings me back to Section 30, which provides for regulations for the prevention of the spread of infectious diseases in cases other than those of patients compulsorily detained and I think it is only fair, on the whole, that people who are compulsorily detained should have whatever privileges there are under the general regulations. Of course, I suppose they will have to submit to whatever, from their point of view, objectionable clauses there may be in the regulations also but what I want to say is that by taking this paragraph (g) out, I am relying on the general regulations which apply to everybody and the same thing will apply to people who are compulsorily detained.

When we were dealing with this matter on Committee Stage, the Minister, in column 1681, said that he just wanted to state the law on the general point. I quote him:—

"As I have said, in the case of an adult person, no surgeon can operate upon him as the law stands, unless he wants to commit an assault, and no person can operate on a young person or on a person of unsound mind without the consent of the parent or guardian. The present law has the advantage that, in a case of urgent necessity, the surgeon, after getting the opinion of another doctor if the other doctor is available, will perform the operation, if he thinks it is absolutely necessary, and only if he thinks it is absolutely necessary."

The Minister, I think, at that particular time was endeavouring to show that the ordinary person had legal protection against unwarranted interference with him by a doctor.

That is right.

And I understood the Minister to suggest then that his approach to the matter was that persons even though they were isolated and detained under the law relating to infectious diseases, would still have the same legal status in relation to the doctors or the surgeons dealing with them as they would have if they were outside.

Yes. I think there is no doubt about that when this sub-section is gone—no doubt whatever.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 18 and 19 not moved.

I move amendment No. 20:—

In page 21, Section 37 (7), line 26, to delete the brackets and letter "(g)".

This is consequential on the disappearance of paragraph (g).

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:—

In page 24, lines 47 to 49, to delete Section 47 (1).

Amendments Nos. 21, 22 and 23 go together. They are dealing with a point that was raised, first of all, by Deputy Dr. O'Higgins on Committee Stage. Deputy O'Higgins made the point that we wanted children to attend at school for medical examination but that the parent could very well claim under Section 47 that the child was verminous and therefore he was not permitted to send the child to school for medical examination. In order not to have any clash of opinions on this, we are removing that section and we say that the only prohibition on a verminous child going to school would be where the district medical officer becomes aware that a child residing in his district is verminous, and serves a notice on the parent of the child prohibiting attendance of the child at any school until he gives a certificate that the child is fit to attend school. It settles that point. The three amendments deal with that point.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:—

In page 25, lines 3 to 7, to delete Section 47 (3).

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:—

In page 25, line 8, Section 47, to delete the words "A person who contravenes sub-section (1) of this section" and to substitute therefor the following:—

"Where a notice under sub-section (1) of this section is served on a parent of a child and such parent sends the child to any school or permits the child to attend any school during the period between the service of the notice and the giving of the certificate referred to in the said sub-section such parent".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:—

In page 30, Section 58, to delete lines 22 to 24 and to substitute the following:—

"(ii) health authorities,

(iii) officers of local authorities with the consent, where the Minister is not the appropriate Minister for the purposes of Part II of the Local Government Act, 1941 (No. 23 of 1941), in relation to a particular office, of the appropriate Minister for the said purposes in relation to a particular office."

This is a drafting amendment. It does not cover, possibly, the present position and the changes there may be in the situation as a result of the report of the tribunal which inquired into the milk supply in Dublin. It may, for instance, happen, if these recommendations which, I hope, will be in the hands of Deputies in the near future, are adopted, that the officers of the Minister for Agriculture will be responsible for certain provisions, such as provisions dealing with milk, and they are already to a great extent responsible for meat. The best thing to do is to put in "the appropriate Minister", which will cover any Minister who will be doing work of this kind.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 25:—

In page 33, before line 53, Section 64, to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

( ) Save in so far as is provided for in sub-section (3) of this section no restriction shall be placed on the sale of medical preparations or of substances with proprietary designations by way of confining their distribution to members of specified trades to the exclusion of other wholesale and retail distributors.

This is the amendment that I asked leave to put down, having discussed the matter on Committee Stage. In effect, what I want to ensure is that the Minister will set up some kind of machinery, either himself, or the appropriate division of his Department, or some kind of arbitration machinery, drawn from the pharmaceutical chemists and general business merchants whereby to ensure that regulations purporting to be made for the protection of the population at large from the promiscuous sale of dangerous drugs will not, in fact, be regulations designed in restraint of trade.

Nobody wants for a moment to make the case that poisons or scarce drugs which should be reserved for medical prescriptions, or commodities of that character, should be available to anybody who wants to sell them. On the other hand, to state the other extremity of the case, we do want to press that tooth paste, castor oil, aspirin, and medicaments of that character will be available to the general merchant (1) in order to ensure that a healthy competition will operate to keep the prices of those commodities down to the consumer, and (2) to ensure that persons living in remote rural places four or five miles from a substantial town will not have to trail into the town every time they want to purchase 4 ozs. of castor oil or a tube of tooth paste.

As the situation stands at present, of course, no grocer ever claims that he ought to be allowed to sell penicillin or streptomycin. At the other end of the scale, the pharmaceutical chemists have never claimed that the sale of tooth brushes should be restricted to them; but as you go in towards the border line of cases, you find a considerable range of commodities which it is hard to declare positively and certainly should be placed in one category or the other. I am perfectly certain that if two reasonable men like myself and Deputy Loughman met once a month and considered representations, as to whether a given commodity was of a character to which restrictive regulations should apply, in 99 cases out of 100 we would settle it in five minutes. I do not doubt that either in the Department or in the respective trades such an arbitration tribunal could be readily devised.

I frequently recall the philosophical observation of a man for whose judgment I have great respect, who on his 70th birthday wrote to his son and said:—

"Looking back over the 70 long years, I have come to the conclusion that this world is not a bad place at all, if only people would be reasonable."

I am satisfied that the way to secure right reason in this matter is to accept something like the general principle I have enunciated and to leave it to reasonable people to determine in their way what that means in any specific case that may be raised. If such machinery is made available, there will be no ill-will or ill-feeling between two bodies of respectable citizens who are fated to live cheek by jowl throughout the countryside. I am strongly in favour of not waiting for ructions to start but taking precautions to enable men who want to raise them to be reasonable in time and settle their grievances in a reasonable way.

I do not wish to adhere strictly to the form of this amendment; but, given that the Minister understands the problem, he might undertake, in this way or in some other way, to provide that hereafter, anyone who wants to make a regulation restricting the sale of a commodity to a certain body of merchants, to the exclusion of all others, may be called upon to satisfy the Minister or his deputy that that regulation is being made in the public interest and is not a device in restraint of legitimate, competitive trade, concealed under the disguise of a regulation made for the protection of the community.

I am not saying for a moment that the Deputy is out of order on this amendment, but would not the restraint of trade be a matter for Industry and Commerce? I am not ruling the Deputy out of order.

Every pharmaceutical chemist knows that pretty well, and if you could get him into Kildare Street, you might civilise him quickly enough; but the moment you try that, he puts on the academic gown and the M.P.S.I. hat and becomes at once a privileged person who scorns to look at any trader, as they are not worthy enough; who claims to be brought to Merrion Street, to the shade of the College of Science; and the trader is made to dwindle down to three foot high and then to crawl away—a common, low, uneducated person. It is for that reason that I direct the Minister's attention to the fact that it is only where he sees the M.P.S.I. cap and gown being put on for that purpose that he should say to the chemist concerned: "Take off the cap and gown and go around to Kildare Street and defend that as a trading matter, as in my judgment it is not a public health matter at all."

I did not understand the Deputy quite clearly. The Deputy does not want me to interfere with the trade war between the two sides: he is only asking me not to take part in that trade war in any regulation I make?

No, no, I am doing more; I am asking the Minister to create some kind of machinery whereby, if a body representing grocers and general merchants feel that the pharmaceutical chemists have made a regulation purporting to protect public health but in fact primarily designed to restrain trade, the grocers' organisation may make a statement to the Minister for Health saying: "This is not a health regulation at all; it is a regulation in restriction of trade and one which you ought to prohibit being made under the disguise of a health regulation."

I understand now.

From the speech to which I have just listened and the one we had on the Committee Stage, I understood that this was purely a trade matter.

It has some bearing on this Bill, in my view, and I will allow the amendment.

Most of the debate was on the question of trading between different traders. Since we cannot talk about that, there is only the question of what a chemist or a grocer is legally entitled to sell. As things stand, that line of division of the articles is very clearly defined. A grocer can sell practically anything that is not poisonous and the chemist has to deal with the prescriptions. Deputy Dillon was concerned with the restriction of the sale of certain proprietary articles which manufacturers will sell only through chemists. The only observation I want to make on that is that the same thing applies to practically every vocational trading group in the country. All those groups with special interests are entitled to sell through certain agencies, if they choose, and in no other way.

Of course, to satisfy Deputy Dillon, I believe that some time in the future— I hope in the near future—a Bill will be introduced to regulate the sale of medical preparations. Although the chemist is completely entitled to have these sales reserved to the chemist, what Deputy Dillon advocates is that we should abolish such things as grocers, bakers and victuallers and have an omnibus store selling everything. Up to the present we have had a system that the grocer would sell only groceries and such like and the chemist those things relating to pharmacy—"the cobbler to his last", so to speak. If the grocer wishes to enter into the sale of medicinal preparations, I think he could not claim that he was entitled to do so. However, I feel that the Minister will not accept the amendment, but later perhaps, if a Pharmacy Bill is introduced, the matters to which Deputy Dillon referred can be more properly discussed.

So that if a person in Kilmaine wants a bottle of syrup of figs, he must foot it into Clonmel for it.

If a child lives four miles from a school, he must travel that distance to get to school, although another child lives in the street near the school.

Restriction of trade would really be a matter for the Minister for Industry and Commerce. We could not deal with it here. So far as this Bill is concerned, regulations made with regard to proprietary substances will not, except in very few cases such as penicillin, cover substances such as those referred to by Deputy Dillon. It may be necessary to say in the regulations that a substance like penicillin must be of a certain standard and we might go further and say that it can be supplied only on a doctor's prescription and obviously it would come through a pharmaceutical chemist. Taking the other extreme, we might have to prescribe that toothpaste would not have in it any injurious substance, as some have, I am told, but, if we did, we would not say that it must be supplied on a doctor's prescription and, therefore, the matter would not arise, whether sold by a grocer or a pharmaceutical chemist.

Deputy Dillon spoke of the borderline cases. So far as the regulations under the Bill are concerned, there will be very little change in the situation, and I cannot say at the moment that any particular substance will be confined to the pharmaceutical chemist, unless it is very obviously a medical preparation in respect of which it is important to have a proper standard, and which it would be necessary for a doctor to prescribe. I believe that, at this stage anyway, Deputy Dillon need have no worry about this Bill, but I do not know how things may develop as time goes on. Even if I were anxious to give Deputy Dillon and those for whom he speaks an assurance on the matter, I do not think I could do so at this stage. It would require, I am afraid, three or four well-drafted sections, and, in the end, we would probably come to the conclusion that this Bill is not the place to deal with it, that the proper place would be the code referred to as the Sale of Poisons Acts, and that these might be amended, if it were thought fit, to deal with the idea Deputy Dillon has in mind. In the circumstances, I ask him to withdraw the amendment, so far as it applies to this Bill, whatever we might do later on.

May I direct the Minister's attention to a facet of this matter which has escaped his attention?

The Deputy may ask a question.

I am not asking the Minister to make any regulations. The Minister having made his regulations about poisons, drugs and so forth, Messrs. May Roberts and Company may come along and make a regulation that they will not sell a certain commodity to anyone but a pharmaceutical chemist. The packet tax prevents the general grocer from getting that commodity in from abroad.

Would that not definitely be a matter for Industry and Commerce?

I want to be in a position to cite that regulation to the Minister for Health and to say: "These people are pretending they are making a restrictive regulation to protect the public health and I want you to declare that it is no such thing, that you do not require that regulation for the protection of the public health at all, that it is simply a trade device for profit". That is all I want. All I want is a tribunal to which the grocer could go to test whether the regulation was made for health purpose or whether it was in fact a pretence. In view of the Minister's observations, I shall withdraw the amendment, but perhaps he will bear the matter in mind.

So far as other legislation is concerned, yes.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 26:—

In page 35, Section 66, before line 21, to add at the end of sub-section (2) the following paragraph:—

(g) may provide for the registration of premises in which flock is kept for sale or for use for the purpose of making bedding, cushions, articles of upholstery and similar articles.

This arises out of a recommendation of a committee set up in Great Britain recently that provision of this kind should be made in their case. We propose to take advantage of their wisdom in the matter.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:—

In page 39, lines 38 to 41, Section 72 (2), to delete the words and brackets "(other than duties relating to infectious diseases) to be performed in the whole or the part of the district situated in the urban district (as the case may be)" and substitute the following: "relating to the functions of the urban sanitary authority for such urban district".

This is a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 28:—

In page 39, Section 72, to delete lines 44 to 48, sub-section (3).

Following Committee Stage, there is now no reference to a dispensary district in sub-section (2), so that sub-section (3) goes out.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 29:—

In page 40, lines 7 and 8, Section 72 (6), to delete the words "offices of medical officer and medical officer of health" and substitute therefor the words "office of medical officer".

This again is a drafting amendment. In consultation with the Local Appointments Commission we find that the advertisement refers to the medical officer of a dispensary district and medical officer of health is automatically added on.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 30:—

In page 42, before line 24, to add at the end of Section 77 the following sub-section:—

(2) Nothing in sub-section (1) of this section shall be construed as affecting the operation of Section 130 of the Transport Act, 1944 (No. 21 of 1944).

The Minister for Industry and Commerce asked me to put this in. Section 130 of the Transport Act, 1944, lays it down that nobody, without his permission, can interfere with railway property. This is in line with that section.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 31:

In page 50, Section 97, to add at the end of the section, line 28, a new sub-section as follows:—

( ) The National Health Council shall publish an annual report which shall be published and circulated to members of the Oireachtas.

May I say that it would be an extremely difficult matter to publish a report? I should like the Deputy to agree that we should get some experience. My experience of meetings with one consultative council so far is that we discuss matters, and in most cases, I am able to say that I agree with a proposal and that it will be carried out. In some cases, I may say that it will require consideration, and, in other cases, that I could not accept it. The discussions are rather informal and very often there may be a meeting without any formal decision at all. It is not easy to draw up an annual report and it is better that they should proceed on these lines—better work will be done—rather than have it done formally.

I moved this amendment for the purpose of helping to give the National Health Council, which will now be a statutory body, some assistance towards becoming a realistic body. The Minister refused to consider an amendment setting out that the powers, functions and duties of this council should be defined by statute, and I was rather interested and pleased to have an inquiry addressed to me—an inquiry which showed that people outside were taking an interest in the matter—on behalf of the executive council of Catholic Societies Vocational Organisation Conference, asking me why I had withdrawn my amendment to Clause 92, which would have given certain statutory powers, functions and duties to the health council. I was interested and pleased to know that there were people outside taking an interest in this National Health Council and in what was being done here to make it a reality.

I was able to reply that I had withdrawn my amendment in view of the Minister's attitude and because we had made a certain amount of progress: because it had been made a statutory requirement that the Minister would have a national health council, and because the Minister himself—even before it had been enshrined in this Bill —had appointed a council, drawn in a representative way from a number of the different organised medical professional bodies. I was able to do so because I felt that, as we went on, it would be appreciated more and more that the health council ought to have certain powers, functions and duties, and that, in fact, we would be dependent upon the bodies mentioned and others and their experience in outlining what ought to be the powers, functions and duties that such a body should have conferred on them by statute. I felt that we had got into the position where we had such a body and that, after a certain amount of experience as an advisory body to the Minister, there could be outlined, in an efficient and effective way, what the statutory powers, functions and duties of that body ought to be. In his foreword to the report of the Commission on Vocational Organisation, the Most Rev. Dr. Browne stated:—

"The report is a serious effort to show how abstract principles can be applied to the concrete realities of our complex social and economic life. But it does not pretend to provide detailed drawings or blueprints for the erection and interior decoration of an elaborate structure conceived after the manner of a material building which is to be occupied at once. It has in more than one place made it clear that vocational organisations should develop from existing institutions and follow the laws of organic, vital growing, without violent breach of continuity. Not all the plans and suggestions in the report are put forward as immediately operable; some must await the development of others as their firm foundation. Many details and proposals have been left to the discretion of some administrative or vocational body in order to secure that growth be guided by increasing experience."

I think everybody will appreciate the point of view put by his Lordship in that short paragraph in the foreword. Therefore, I was quite satisfied not to press that we, representatives in Parliament, would attempt to define duties and powers that could more satisfactorily be defined by the specialised body and could only be satisfactorily defined when there had been that organic growth, in mind, in work, and being, that we hope will continue in the National Health Council. I feel that it is essential that, having set up the National Health Council as an advisory body, there should be put on them the statutory obligation of making a report. We would not necessarily in the beginning either expect or require a very elaborate account of all the discussions that occurred either among themselves or with the Minister, but we would expect a simple clear outline of things actually done, actually achieved, as a result of the existence of a National Health Council.

I press the Minister very much to accept this amendment. It puts no obligation on the council to cover any special aspect of its work in its national report. It can be as modest, as restricted, and as limited as it likes except that there is the statutory obligation on them to let us know what they have done during the year. They will, therefore, be encouraged to regard themselves as a statutory body and not as a loose amorphous body that can be called together when the Minister wants them for a particular purpose, or left there like the old Road Advisory Committee that I do not know whether it was ever ended or whether it just stopped. I press the idea of this amendment on the Minister. I think that from the point of view of the members of the national health council both individually and collectively when they are set up as a statutory body they should be asked to give an annual report, it being left entirely to their own discretion in consultation with the Minister, what ground would be covered by that report.

I wonder, a Chinn Comhairle, if it would cover the matter if I were to undertake, at this point, to see that there would be a chapter of the report of the Department given to the health council? I do not think that the health council could do what Deputy Mulcahy wants at the moment, They are too busy. Some official would have to do it for them. If an official draws up an account of what they did and a chapter is put in the report of the Department for the year perhaps that would meet the case. Naturally such an official would not submit the report without the concurrence of the members of the council. They would have to agree to the account he would give. I think that for a while that kind of a half-way house should stand.

Surely the Minister does not suggest that when a statutory body is set up like that some official will not act as its secretary?

That is right.

Therefore, any report prepared by their secretary would be a report prepared on lines suggested and directed either by the chairman or by the members of the council itself. To say that this work must be done by an official is rather an inconsequential way of putting it. I think it would be wrong that we should have the old section on public health in the Minister's report regarded as a report from a body which is a separate statutory body. After all, if we make this body a statutory body, particularly if we make them such from the vocational idea that was thought so important that a commission had to be set up to investigate and inquire into it, they should issue a separate report. Where we have focal centres of specialised thought on vocationalism, surely we ought to see that they would be made as self-conscious as possible and, from that point of view, if there was anything in the idea which resulted in the setting up by the Taoiseach of the vocational commission, I think we ought to ask this council to present an annual report.

I would like, first of all, to have a little experience of how it will work and I would ask the Deputy, therefore, not to press the amendment.

You may negative it now, but I would press the idea. If we negative it now, I think the Minister's other amendments can be finished by two o'clock.

We will leave it aside for a while, anyhow.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 32:-

In page 51, Section 102 (3), line 48, to delete the figures "1940" and substitute the figures "1945".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 33:-

In page 52, before Section 104, to insert the following new section:-

A health authority may, with the approval of the Minister, and shall, if the Minister so directs, provide and maintain residences for the use of officers appointed or servants employed by them.

We were not sure if the local authority would have power to maintain residences for these people.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 34:-

In page 52, to delete Section 106 and to substitute the following new section:-

(1) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) of this section any person who suffers damage by reason of an injury to this property caused by a health authority or their officers or servants in the exercise of their powers or the performance of their duties under any of the provisions of this Act except Part VIII in a matter in which he is not in default shall be entitled to recover compensation for such damage from such health authority.

(2) A person shall not be entitled to recover compensation from a health authority in respect of injury to his property caused by any measures taken for the cleansing, disinfection, disinfestation or destruction of such property where such property has been knowingly and unnecessarily exposed to infection or infestation.

(3) Any person who suffers damage by reason of injury to his person caused by the negligence of a health authority or of any of their officers or servants in the exercise of their powers or performance of their duties under this Act shall be entitled to recover compensation for such damage from such health authority.

(4) The personal representative of any person whose death is caused by the negligence of a health authority or of any of their officers or servants in the exercise of their powers or performance of their duties under this Act shall be entitled to recover damages from the health authority in respect of such death in an action brought under the Fatal Accidents Acts, 1846 to 1908.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 35:-

In page 52, to insert after Section 106, the following section:-

(1) The Minister may by Order make, in respect of any statute, Order or regulation in force at the passing of this Act and relating to any matter or thing dealt with or affected by this Act, any adaptations or modifications which appear to him to be necessary to enable such statute, Order or regulation to have effect in conformity with this Act.

(2) Every Order made by the Minister under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution is passed by either such House within the next subsequent 21 days on which that House has sat after the Order is laid before it, the Order shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 36:-

In page 53, First Schedule, before the entry relating to the Public Health Act, 1904, to insert the following:—

61 & 62 Vic., c. 37.

Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898.

Section 32.

Amendment agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Fifth Stage ordered for Tuesday, 1st July, 1947.
The Dáil adjourned at 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 1st July, 1947.