Health Authorities Bill, 1959—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 9.

When I moved to report progress I was dealing with amendment No. 9 and I was pointing out the manner in which the local expenses would be raised. It might, perhaps, make the matter shorter if I explained that the section which it is proposed to amend is the section which provides for the general allocation of expenses as between the various appointing authorities. The main purpose of Amendment No. 9 is to provide that if the health authority should happen to come into existence in a certain year they might find themselves without funds and this is to ensure that the fund properly raised for the services will be handed over to the health authority.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 11, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 12.
Question proposed: "That Section 12 stand part of the Bill."

This is merely a traditional section to make provision for the expenses during the period of transition.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 13.
Question proposed: "That Section 13 stand part of the Bill."

Perhaps I had better read my note on this. Sections 9 and 10 of the City and County Management (Amendment) Act, 1955, deal with the manner in which the estimates of a local authority shall be prepared, and with the procedure for holding an estimates meeting at which the estimate of a local authority is adopted. If Section 13 were not here, this provision would apply to the adoption, by the health authority in the four areas, of the estimate of their expenditure. It has, however, been decided that the procedure for the adoption of the estimates of a health authority should differ from the normal procedure of joint boards in that the rating authorities should be given an opportunity of examining the demands which will be made upon them by the health authority before these are finally adopted. Provision for this is made in the Second Schedule to the Bill and these provisions will have effect, in relation to the health authorities, in substitution for the provisions in Sections 9 and 10 of the 1955 Act.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 14.

I move amendment No. 10:—

To add to the section the following subsection:—

"(6) A health authority established by this Act shall make every payment which—

(a) is in respect of any local financial year after that in which that health authority are established,

(b) would, but for this subsection, be made by a local authority who appoint members of that health authority, and

(c) would, but for this Act, be part of the net health expenditure for the purposes of the Act of that local authority in respect of that local financial year."

This is merely to ensure that after the end of a local financial year in which a health authority is established under the Act, only that authority can receive payments from the health services grant for its area; to ensure that any item of expenditure which at present ranks for recoupment from that grant will continue so to rank. The amendment will ordinarily provide that such an item will become the responsibility of the health authority and not of the authority who might remain responsible for making the payment if it were not for this provision. A clear case in point is that of a person who has been a former official of one of the appointing boards and who has been retired on pension. The responsibility for his pension will be transferred to the health authority.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 14, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 15.
Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 not moved.

I understand from the Minister that certain discussions have taken place with regard to the matter dealt with in these amendments and perhaps the amendments could be moved, if necessary, on the Report Stage.

On the Report Stage, yes.

Question proposed: "That Section 15 stand part of the Bill."

I should like to say something on the section. I say it in order to correct a statement made by the Minister on the Second Reading with which I had not got an opportunity of dealing. I opposed the provision in this Bill which sought to abolish, or merge, the Dublin Fever Hospital Board in the new health authority. I corrected the statement which the Minister made in his introductory speech to the Second Reading to the effect that the abolition of the Dublin Fever Hospital Board was an integral part of the Dublin unified health proposal. I said that I was not so aware and later on in his closing speech the Minister said, and I quote from the Official Reports, Volume 177, Column 809:—

My predecessor, Deputy O'Higgins, when speaking last night was betrayed by a faulty recollection of what in fact had been his ideas—I do not want to put it further than that—in relation to the Dublin Fever Hospital Board. It was included in the scheme which he had before him and it is common property that he had it before him because he visited the Waterford Corporation and the various local authorities concerned in Waterford and Cork in 1956 with a view to getting the principle of unification accepted. In his particular scheme the Dublin Fever Hospital Board was included. I am saying that because there has been the suggestion made by Deputy Dockrell that in some way I am influenced by some degree of malice or vindictiveness against the Dublin Fever Hospital Board.

I want to assert that I was never aware at any stage, when I was Minister for Health, that it was proposed to abolish the Dublin Fever Hospital Board. Furthermore, I want to correct, from the Minister's own records, the statement he made that the Dublin Fever Hospital Board was always part of the Dublin unified health authority proposal. This proposal was first communicated to the Dublin local authorities by a letter issued in 1952, on the 30 Meán Fómhair, 1952. In that letter which contained the Dublin unified health authority proposal as it was known to me, it was proposed, and I quote:

The Minister proposes that in Dublin city and county there should be one health authority to consist of 16 members of the Corporation and eight members of the County Council to carry out the health functions of the Dublin Corporation and the Dublin County Council and the three boards of assistance and the functions of the Grangegorman Mental Hospital Authority.

As the Minister is aware, the proposal in that letter was considered fully by the Dublin bodies affected under a joint committee which subsequently brought out a report known as the Dooge Report. It was the work of the present Professor Dooge and in that report it was pointed out that the Minister's new health authority would not administer the present functions of the Dublin Fever Hospital Board which would still remain as a separate local authority.

I want to know why it could be suggested here that I was at any time informed, or as Minister for Health that I ever suggested, that the Dublin Fever Hospital Board would be abolished? It was not part of the proposal before me. I was never so informed or advised, and if the Minister will go back on the records he will find that I interviewed each body, or received and discussed with each body affected by this proposal, what might take place. Not only did I go to Waterford and Limerick, as mentioned by the Minister, but I discussed this matter fully with both the Dublin Corporation and Dublin County Council. I interviewed, and I had discussions with, everybody affected by the proposals in this Bill. I never had any discussions on this matter with the Dublin Fever Hospital Board because, so far as I was aware, they were not to be affected. It surprised me that a statement of this kind should have been made, particularly as I have made a statement here from my own recollection on the matter.

I concede that possibly on the large health authority file which has grown up since 1952 there may have been second thinking with regard to the Dublin Fever Hospital Board. Somebody may have included the abolition of the board in the proposal but certaintly it was not brought to my notice or to my attention. If it had, I would undoubtedly have rejected it because when I was Minister I was always concerned to foster and to keep alive voluntary effort not only in other services but also on the hospital boards. I do not intend to say anything more but I wanted to correct that for the record. It does appear that this proposal was not originally associated with the unified health authority while I was there. It may have come in later, but, if it did, I was not aware of it.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.