The only controversy in the matter of this section has been in relation to the Dublin Fever Hospital Board. I am hoping to introduce an amendment on the Report Stage which will be accepted as satisfactory. I think I should now, merely for the record and not for the purpose of embarking on any controversy, say that when I mentioned that the proposal relating to the Dublin Fever Hospital Board had been in this scheme from its inception in 1952 I was speaking from the records in the possession of the Department. I do not want to say any more than that.
Health Authorities Bill, 1959—Committee Stage (Resumed).
I move amendment No. 13:
In page 12, before section 16, to insert the following section:—
16.—(1) In this section "appointing local authority" means, in relation to a health authority, a local authority appointing members of the health authority.
(2) On the establishment of a health authority established by this Act, the following property namely:
(a) all property, whether real or personal (including choses-in-action) which, immediately before the establishment, was vested in or belonged to or was held in trust for an appointing local authority and was property which was solely for the purposes of services to be transferred on the establishment to the health authority, and
(b) all other property, whether real or personal (including choses-in-action), which, immediately before the establishment, was vested in or belonged to or was held in trust for an appointing local authority and stood designated by that authority as property to be transferred to the health authority,
and all rights, powers and privileges relating to or connected with any such property, shall, without any conveyance or assignment but subject where necessary to transfer in the books of any bank, corporation, or company, become and be vested in or the property of or held in trust for (as the case may require) the health authority for all the estate, term, or interest for which the same immediately before the establishment was vested in or belonged to or was held in trust for the appointing local authority, but subject to all trusts and equities affecting the same and then subsisting and capable of being performed.
(3) All property transferred by subsection (2) of this section to a health authority established by this Act which, immediately before the establishment, was standing in the books of any bank or was registered in the books of any bank, corporation, or company in the name of an appointing local authority shall, upon the request of the health authority made at any time after the establishment, be transferred in such books by such bank, corporation or company into the name of the health authority.
(4) Every chose-in-action transferred by subsection (2) of this section to a health authority established by this Act may, after the establishment, be sued upon, recovered, or enforced by the health authority in their own name and it shall not be necessary for the health authority to give notice to the person bound by such chose-in-action of the transfer effected by that subsection.
(5) After the establishment of a health authority established by this Act, every bond, guarantee, or other security of a continuing character made or given by an appointing local authority to another person, or by any person to an appointing local authority, which was in force immediately before the establishment and which related solely to services to be transferred on the establishment to the health authority, and every contract or agreement in writing made between an appointing local authority and another person which was not fully executed and completed before the establishment and which related solely to services to be transferred on the establishment to the health authority shall be construed and have effect as if the name of the health authority were substituted therein for the name of the appointing local authority, and such security, contract or agreement shall be enforceable by or against the health authority accordingly.
(6) After the establishment of a health authority established by this Act, every rule and regulation lawfully made by an appointing local authority which was in force immediately before the establishment and which related solely to services to be transferred on the establishment to the health authority shall, so far as it is not inconsistent with this Act, continue in force and have effect as a rule or regulation (as the case may be) made on the establishment by the health authority for the residue then unexpired of the period and in respect of the area for and in respect of which the same was actually made by the appointing local authority, and accordingly every such rule and regulation may be continued, varied or revoked, and penalties and forfeitures arising thereunder before or after the establishment may be recovered and enforced, by the health authority in the like manner and as fully as the same could have been continued, varied, revoked, recovered or enforced by the appointing local authority if this Act had not been passed.
(7) After the establishment of a health authority established by this Act, every resolution passed, order made, and notice served by an appointing local authority before the establishment the operation, effect or term of which had not ceased or expired before the establishment (being a resolution, order or notice relating solely to services to be transferred on the establishment to the health authority) shall, so far as it is not inconsistent with this Act, continue in force and have effect as if it were a resolution passed, order made, or notice served by the health authority on the date on which the same was actually passed, made or served by the appointing local authority and as if the functions of the appointing local authority were, on the said date, performable by the health authority.
Section 15 provides for the transfer of property and, shall we say, the continuance of proceedings by those bodies which are to be dissolved under Section 15. There appears to be, and in fact there is, a need to make the same provision in relation to bodies which are not to be dissolved as, for instance, Dublin Corporation and the Dublin County Council so as to provide that there would be a transfer of property from these bodies as well to the new health authority.
I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the anxiety which has been felt——
I do not think it arises on this section. I think the subject matter to which Deputy Cummins wishes to refer will arise on the original Section 16.
This section deals purely with the transfer of officers?
As I understand it, the new section deals with property and the old section deals with personnel.
I move amendment No. 14:—
In subsection (1), page 12, lines 51 and 52, to delete "(other than an Assistant County Manager or an Assistant City Manager)", and in lines 54 to 56, to delete "engaged on the operation of services which, on the establishment, became transferred to the health authority" and substitute "to be transferred under this subsection".
There are five other Ministerial amendments to this section: Numbers 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19. I think that perhaps the points some Deputies may wish to raise will be raised on Deputy Sweetman's amendment, No. 16. I am in the hands of the House in that regard.
The Minister mentioned my amendment.
You are both very handsome Deputies.
This complimentary method of proceeding is better than the one we had a few minutes ago with the Minister's colleague, the Minister for Local Government.
I am suggesting that Amendments Nos. 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19 be taken together.
They deal with personnel?
They are really rather definition amendments in so far as they provide for a more specific definition of the officers and servants of the local authority appointing members of the health authority who will be transferred to the service of the latter authority.
Section 16, as it stands, provides for the transfer of officers and servants engaged in the operation of services which, at its establishment, became transferred to the health authority. That has been found to be weak on two scores. Firstly, some of the officers and servants—such as clerical officers and groundsmen, for instance, in a hospital—could not be regarded as being engaged in the operation of the services concerned. Secondly, it makes no provision in relation to staff engaged part-time on the transfer of services and part-time on services which will remain with the appointing authority. It is desired to make the section specific so that there will be a transfer of officers actually engaged in the services and of others who will be designated as the more appropriate to be transferred with the services on which they have been engaged part-time or wholetime. That is the purpose of the amendments 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19. I suggest that if the House were to adopt those, we could come back to Deputy Corish's amendment No. 16, which relates to the point which most Deputies wish to raise. It could also be raised on the section itself.
I presume it is agreed that Amendments 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19 are being discussed?
14 and 15, yes.
I move amendment No. 15:—
In page 13, before subsection (2), to insert the following subsection:—
"(2) In subsection (1) of this section the reference to an officer to be transferred under that subsection shall be construed as referring to any of the following officers other than an Assistant County Manager or an Assistant City Manager:
(a) any officer whose duties relate solely to services which, on the establishment of the health authority, are to become transferred to the health authority, and
(b) any officer, other than an officer referred to in the foregoing paragraph, who has been designated by the local authority appointing members of the health authority as an officer to be transferred under that subsection."
I thought the Minister wanted to take 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19 before 16? We are quite agreeable.
The amendments cannot be put out of turn.
The House can do anything when it is in an amenable mood. It is so rare to have the Minister for Health in an agreeable mood that we should like to celebrate the occasion.
Amendment No. 16, Deputy Corish.
I thought we took 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19 and went back to 16?
Deputy Corish is not here.
The point can be argued equally well on this section. What have we done with amendment No. 17?
On a point of order, surely if the Minister in charge of a Bill asks that amendments 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19 in his name be taken before amendment 16 and the Opposition agree and the House agrees to that procedure, it should be done as a matter of courtesy to the Minister and there should be no attempt to direct otherwise?
I gather that they were taken merely for the purpose of discussion. It is understood that amendments 17, 18 and 19 will be agreed to, and we are at the moment waiting for Deputy Corish.
I should like the courtesy of the House to be extended to the Minister for Health, who asked that the amendments would be taken in a certain order and we agreed. Amendments 17, 18 and 19 could be put and we could then come back to 16.
We shall not split hairs about these points.
But there is a point in it.
I think Deputy Corish may have been taken by surprise, as I was.
Is it not possible to discuss amendment No. 16?
I think it arises on the section.
It relates to a more specific point, which I am quite willing to argue on the section.
It might not be fair to Deputy Corish.
The view I take about this section is that I would not agree to it if I thought anybody's conditions were worsened. Therefore, I cannot argue the amendment on the section.
There is rather more than that in it. It is not merely a case of not being worsened but this amendment, I think, would give the transferred officers rights which the general body of local government and health authority officials do not possess.
That is not a case that I would argue.
In order not to embarrass the House any longer, perhaps we could go ahead with the section. This amendment we shall regard as not being moved and it may be moved on Report Stage.
I move amendment No. 17:
In subsection (4), page 13, lines 25 to 27, to delete "engaged on the operation of services which, on the establishment, became transferred to the health authority" and substitute "a person to be transferred under this subsection".
I move amendment No. 18:—
In page 13, before subsection (5), to insert the following subsection:—
"(5) In subsection (4) of this section the reference to a person to be transferred under that subsection shall be construed as referring to—
(a) any person engaged solely in relation to services which, on the establishment of the health authority, are to become transferred to the health authority, and
(b) any person, other than a person referred to in the foregoing paragraph, who has been designated by the local authority appointing members of the health authority as a person to be transferred under that subsection."
I move amendment No. 19:—
In subsection (5), page 13, lines 33 to 35, to delete "engaged on the operation of services which, on the establishment of a health authority, became transferred to the health authority", and substitute "a person or persons to be transferred under that subsection".
As a result of Section 16, as agreed on Second Reading, I do not want anybody to be in any worse position after it is passed than he is before it is passed but I am certainly prepared to come this distance with the Minister, that I do not want anybody to have new rights after the Bill is passed different from what they are before the Bill is passed. It does seem to me that it is reasonable to expect that the personnel who have been working for these transferred bodies should be in the situation of not suffering in any way, either in salary, terms of employment, pensions or anything like that, because the State has decided that their employers shall be a different body in future from what it has been in the past. I do not make the case at all that they should get any new rights but I do make the case that their existing rights and privileges should not be in any way abridged.
I also would like the Minister to give us his view of how Section 16, as amended, is likely to operate and the effect that it is likely to have on those officers who will be affected by it. There is at the present moment a considerable amount of unease amongst these officers and anything the Minister can do here to clarify the situation from their point of view will be very welcome.
The intention of the section is quite clear. Once the Health Authority comes into being any officer in the service of the Dublin Corporation who is concerned at the moment with the operation of health services, indeed, concerned with officers who are concerned with the operation of the health services, will be, without any consultation, transferred to the new Authority. This is a very important matter for such an officer as it will mean that the whole basis of his service and his career will be changed overnight.
I should like the House to consider for a moment the position of one of these officers. As a young man leaving school he had a choice of careers open to him and for any one of a variety of reasons, through personal inclination or being attracted by the conditions of service, he chose to enter the Dublin Corporation and make his career in that service. He sat for an open competitive examination and, being successful, took up his appointment with the Dublin Corporation, secure in the knowledge that this was his life's career. If he was an ambitious young man, he probably went to the University and studied local government with particular reference to the unique history and development of Dublin Corporation. Now, after 10, 15 or maybe 20 years of service, he finds that he is to be transferred to an entirely new body and this transfer is to be carried out without reference to or consultation with him. In other words, the assumption that he was entitled to make when he went into the service of the Dublin Corporation is overnight to become invalid.
In these circumstances, there is an onus on this House and on the Minister to give a very great deal of consideration to the position of these officers. The last occasion on which this sort of thing happened was when the electricity services which were operated by the Dublin Corporation were transferred in 1927 to the E.S.B. Any officer of the Corporation who had up till then been dealing with the electricity services was given the option of either remaining in the service of the Dublin Corporation or transferring to the E.S.B.
I want to assure the Minister that I am fully conscious of his difficulty in this matter. I contemplated putting down an amendment which would do the same on this occasion as was done in 1927 when the electricity services were transferred, in other words, an amendment which would give to any officer an option either to remain in the Dublin Corporation or to transfer to the new Health Authority. I was prevented however from putting down such an amendment by the difficulty of the situation.
It is obvious that you could not transfer all the services to the new body and leave in the Corporation all the officers who formerly had been dealing with those services. The difficulty is to reconcile the requirements of the situation and the requirements of the new Health Authority with the onus which is on this House in matters of this sort to be fair to the individual officer concerned.
I do not know what representations the Minister has received from the trade union which caters for these officers but I do know that they also are anxious about the situation.
There is one aspect of the situation in particular which I should like to put to the Minister. Dublin Corporation as a local authority has always been unique in that promotion in its service has always been from within its own ranks. That has been the position up to now. It has given general satisfaction and has been responsible for a fairly high standard of morale in the Corporation service. Any post which became vacant in the service of the Dublin Corporation was not open under the Local Appointments Commission to the country at large. The officers of the Dublin Corporation always maintained that posts open for promotion within the Corporation service should be confined to Corporation officials. What will be the position of the officers of Dublin Corporation at present administering Health Services who transfer to the new Health Authority?
If posts become vacant in the new Health Authority, will those posts be open to competition from the country as a whole or will they be confined to the officers of the Health Authority? If posts in the new Health Authority are thrown open for competition to officers throughout the country generally then a disservice will have been done to the Corporation officers who transfer because a right which they have at the moment will have been taken from them. At the moment they have this right, as officers of Dublin Corporation; if that is not to be so in the future then there will be a definite loss of a privilege from their point of view and a definite worsening of their conditions of service.
The suggestion has been made—I do not know whether it will commend itself to the Minister but I would like him to consider it—that for staff purposes, the new authority and the Dublin Corporation would be regarded as one unit and that officers of one body would be inter-transferable with officers of the other; in other words, if a post becomes vacant in the Dublin Corporation—it is very difficult to compete against these rival conversations——
Rival, but complementary.
I was not aware that they were complimentary.
Complementary, not complimentary.
I shall take it the other way. As I was saying, the suggestion has been put forward that officers would be inter-transferable between the two bodies and that if a post became vacant in the health authority it would be open for competition to the officers of both—the Corporation and the health authority. I think that would be a reasonable suggestion and one which would go a long way to meet the grievance that an officer of the Corporation who is transferred to the new health authority might have.
I would like to suggest to the Minister that this is a very important matter. It is essential that this new health authority should get off to a good start. It will be involved in a great deal of complex administration. It will face a considerable number of problems particularly in its early stages and it is essential for the success of the whole concept that it should have a staff of officials who are satisfied with their conditions and have no reasonable grievances and whose morale and enthusiasm for their work will be high. For that reason, I suggest that the Minister should go as far as he possibly can to try to ensure that the officers being transferred to the new authority will get every protection and every consideration, and, if he can at this stage, give any assurance or guarantee with regard to these officers when they transfer that would be very desirable.
This section seems to me to cover practically the whole administration of the Bill and in the Explanatory Memorandum it says that the primary object of the Bill is to provide for more efficient and more economical administration. This section appears to deal with the arrangement that will be made for transferring officers from different existing departments into one unified section. Primarily, it deals with the City of Dublin and the county and the other associated health bodies concerned in it, about which I do not know very much. But I do know that if the object of the Bill is to be fulfilled, if it is to produce more efficiency and economy, the natural inference is that it will do so by the centralisation of all these authorities into one single unit.
If it is to achieve that object, obviously it will lead to the administration of those authorities with a lesser staff than heretofore. That brings to light immediately the problem of those who are engaged in local authority work, those engaged in the Health Department and in Local Government as well. That seems to suggest that, far from a simplification of the existing state of affairs, we are heading for a mass of intricacies and complications. I might be quite wrong in that but, taking a detached view of the situation, that seems to be the obvious inference.
It is easy to introduce a Bill and to say on paper that you are going to amalgamate five or six different groups; it is easy to say that you will run those groups from one centre and that you are going to save greatly and that everything will be conducted from a central office with less trouble and less expense that heretofore. I think Deputy Haughey's speech was a most reasoned statement. He was putting the case of a local authority he knows of. They carry out certain functions and have certain staff employed and he is apprehensive that their position may be changed entirely. Apart from Dublin, in Cork, Waterford, Limerick and in my own county, Wexford, and other rural parts where there is amalgamation, if there is to be a saving in health funds or even greater efficiency, one must conclude there will be redundant staff and therefore everybody must be apprehensive and must try to defend the rights of those employed by the State whether directly on Governmental level or whether employed by the local authorities.
It is desirable, therefore, that the Minister should make a full statement on this section giving us a general idea of the whole picture of administration under this new legislation. If he can justify that picture, if he can show that there will be a reduction in expenditure and that a reduction in personnel is required he must then show that under this section which deals directly with personnel, everybody who has been employed in Local Government or by the Health Department or the Department of Social Welfare—which comes into this also —or by the local authorities will be in the same position as they were before. So far so good. He should also state if the situation is likely to result in redundancy and I would like him, in that case, to assure the House that those concerned would be absorbed by some other Government service or that in the words of Deputy Corish's amendment they would be in no worse position than they were before.
If I have spoken at some length it is because I want to get from the Minister a statement; the whole foundation of his argument is based on this section. I am sure he will now give us a full and clear statement of where the economies will be and where the reduction of staff will come in.
I think we must recognise this Section as a genuine attempt on the part of the Minister to safeguard the interests of officers who are transferred from a Board catering for a specific function in a local authority into an amalgamated authority. I think the Minister has set out to do that in a genuine way but I am wondering whether the situation is sufficiently watertight.
Section 16 (1) says:
Upon the establishment of a health authority established by this Act, every officer (other than an Assistant County Manager or an Assistant City Manager) of each local authority appointing members of the Health Authority who, immediately before the establishment, was an officer engaged on the operation of services which, on the establishment, became transferred to the health authority, shall become an officer of the health authority and, for the purposes of any enactment relating to superannuation, his office under the local authority shall be deemed not to have been abolished.
I would direct the Minister's attention to the situation in Cork where you have three separate bodies, the Cork Sanatoria Board, the South Cork Board of Public Assistance and the Mental Hospital Board. You will have officers of these authorities transferred to the main authority. Some of them are described as secretaries; some are described as accountants and some are described as chief clerks. I recognise the Minister has made an effort in the section to protect them in so far as their rate of salary and superannuation are concerned but these people will carry with them descriptions of their offices into the new Authority and this Section does not make it clear what the effect of that will be. For instance, there is a vacancy at the moment in the Board of Assistance for a secretary. There is no secretary there.
There is what might be described as the chief executive officer of the Cork Mental Hospital Board. He is not described as a secretary; he is described as a chief clerk. The Cork Sanatoria Board has a man who is chief executive officer and who has a post as secretary of the Board. To pick out one of them, the secretary of the Sanatoria Board is being brought in under the section as an officer of the new health authority. I appreciate the Minister is endeavouring to cover him as regards his salary and service with the Cork Sanatoria Board and for superannuation purposes. What I want to stress is: what does the Minister visualise in relation to the description of his office? He is described at the moment as secretary of the Sanatoria Board. Will he be brought in and still described as Secretary of the new Authority or will he be described as secretary of a section of the new health authority?
The Minister will appreciate that a person who has attained a certain status with one Board or Committee of a health authority did so after many years of endeavour and after rightful recognition of his services and in the ordinary course of promotion. I am sure the Minister would wish to protect him, not alone as he has attempted to do under the Section, in regard to his salary, his service and his superannuation, but in regard to the description of his office. This Section does not make that point quite clear and I should like to hear if the Minister has anything to say on that aspect of the matter.
I cannot guarantee that every officer will be transferred with his existing title. The only thing I can do is to try to ensure that his emoluments and his status are not worsened. I cannot guarantee that he will be carried over as a secretary of this or that or as a chief officer. Coming down to brass tacks, does it matter very much what he is styled, if his right to superannuation and his emoluments are preserved? Furthermore, I think a transferred officer's prospects of promotion may be enlarged. The matter of nomenclature is really trivial by comparison with the object of the Bill, and no Minister could possibly guarantee that when an existing body is being amalgamated with others the same title will be carried over. It is not usual, even in business circles, that that should be done and it certainly could not be done in a local authority organisation which covers a multitude of activities.
Therefore, I cannot give the Deputy any guarantee in that regard. As the Deputy himself has already said I do not want to see any officer of an existing authority in any worse position than he is now and if he is entitled to opportunities and if he is fit to avail of larger opportunities of promotion I do not wish to deprive him of those in any way. Beyond that I cannot go.
In relation to the point made by Deputy Haughey, the answer is quite simple. We have to carry on the health services. We have to secure the unification of the staff. We must allow for a greater degree of flexibility and interchange between the staffs of existing health authorities. Therefore, we cannot agree that these services should be carried on in their present watertight compartments, because that is what it would mean. If I were to say promotion would be reserved in certain services to existing officers of Dublin Corporation or existing officers of the Dublin Board of Assistance, there would not be any use under such conditions in bringing in a Bill of this sort which is, in fact designed to bring about a situation in which the best of these people will become available for the administration of the health services. As well as that, if I were to accept the principle that people are going to preserve their existing positions in the administrative system of the Dublin Corporation or the Dublin Board of Assistance or of the South Cork Board of Assistance or the Cork Corporation I would have to say that a doctor who had been employed as a Medical Officer with the Dublin Corporation was in a position to stay there and hold the position in the Dublin Corporation and could not be transferred to a post which had been previously held by somebody in the Dublin County Council office. I would have to do that also with nurses and with all the professional personnel of these services, and if I did that the whole purpose of the Bill would be defeated.
The purpose of this Bill is, first of all, to enable all the people who are living in the communities in the cities and counties which are dealt with in the Bill to get the best of the services which are available in any one particular instance. I think the whole community should get that. That cannot be done unless you are prepared to have the whole personnel in the position that they may be directed to give their services in those offices for which they are best suited. I do not think there is any real analogy between what is being done under this Bill and what was done in 1927.
First of all, in 1927 people were being transferred from a local authority service such as the Dublin electricity supply undertaking to a national statutory undertaking. They were being transferred to a new undertaking with a completely different code from that under which they had been working. In the present case all the officers will still be under the Local Government code. They will be entitled to whatever benefits are reserved to them under the Local Government Acts of 1941 and 1955 and they will also be subject to all the obligations which those Acts impose on them.
The Act of 1941 is very significant in that regard. It does, by anticipation, cover the existing situation. Section 5 of that Act as amended by Section 17 of the 1955 Act reads:
"Where the appropriate Minister is satisfied that, on account of any alterations which have already occurred or are in contemplation, it is in the public interest that the holder of such office shall resign therefrom, then the appropriate Minister may require such holder to resign within a specified time, and if such holder fails to resign from such office, he may, by order, remove such holder from such office."
There we have the existing situation. If the Minister is satisfied that it is appropriate that the holder of any office under the appointing authority should be required to resign because of changes which have already been made or are in contemplation, the Minister may call upon him to resign and may remove him from office. We are, in fact, not treating the holders of offices in accordance with that section. We are, in fact, ensuring that they will be transferred to a new authority with all the rights in regard to remuneration and superannuation already held by them.
We must look at it from that point of view. We are carrying through an operation which is designed for the benefit of the community as a whole. We are trying to do that without infringing the rights in any particular way of any particular individual. I think that we must have regard, in a matter of this sort, to the larger interest of the community. It may be that some individual will have to travel a few miles further to another office, but that is no great hardship in these days. It might happen that instead of dealing with citizens of Dublin City as an administrative area, he may have to deal with those of Dublin County but that does not make any difference to him as long as he is capable of performing his functions with reasonable efficiency. Then he is secure in his post and nobody can interfere with him.
On the other question of trying to reserve opportunities for promotion to the servants of existing health authorities, and to the exclusion of all other servants of other health authorities who may become part of the unified body, I think we cannot do that. We have to make up our minds that if we are to have unification it will not merely be unification in name; it must also mean that the staffs are to be unified and be treated on the principle that every man will have equal rights. That will mean equal rights to ultimate promotion.
I think that for any man of ambition or who has the necessary capacity, one of the results of unification will be that it will throw open greater opportunities to the men of talent and ability. Instead of being confined, as they are now, to the opportunities afforded to them by the existing smaller bodies, they will have a greater field for their activities, because the opportunities that will be open to them will be greater too.
I think that, since the public interest demands it, this change should be made; and that as a result we are going to have greater opportunity for men of ability and talent who are prepared to work for promotion. I do not think that we are justified in trying to reserve opportunities for promotion in that regard to people who are now in the service of any particular appointing authority. It would be very short-sighted to do so, because one thing it would do would be to safeguard the existing status, rights and responsibilities of the mediocre individuals to the detriment of their more talented colleagues.
Let me say at once that I am fully conscious of the difficulties of the situation and that I support the Minister whole-heartedly in what he is trying to do to achieve uniformity with the consequent increased efficiency. I just want to clear up one or two little misapprehensions which have crept in. I think the Minister does not quite understand my point. I did not endeavour to suggest that when the new health authority comes into being promotion should be kept in water-tight compartments corresponding to the existing bodies which are being taken over. There are two propositions. The first one is that the new health authority would be regarded, as the Minister says, as one organisation and that any promotion within that organisation would be from within its own ranks.
In other words, if an appointment for, say, Secretary of the new organisation comes up, if a vacancy occurs for that position, it would be open only to persons already serving in its ranks. Whether the staff came from the Dublin Corporation, the Dublin Board of Assistance, Grangegorman or any other body, in so far as the new health authority is concerned it would be regarded as self-contained.
That suggestion would mean that any officer of the Dublin Corporation who would transfer to the new health authority would have the same position obtaining in the new health authority as already obtains in the service of the Dublin Corporation. At the moment, if any vacancy occurs in the Dublin Corporation it is filled only from within the service of the Dublin Corporation itself. I put it to the Minister for consideration that the same position should apply in the new health authority.
Another and a separate proposition which I put to the Minister is that the whole of the new health authority and the Dublin Corporation would be regarded as one unit for staff purposes. In other words, any member serving on the staff of the new health authority in Dublin could apply for any position which became vacant in the Dublin Corporation and any member of the staff of the Dublin Corporation would similarly be entitled to apply for a post becoming vacant in the new health authority. That would give a good deal of flexibility and it might not be a bad thing administratively. It would mean that an officer who has made the Dublin Corporation his career and is transferred to the new health authority would still have an opportunity, maybe at some time in the future, of transferring back to the service of the Dublin Corporation.
We must reluctantly face up to the fact that there will be officers of the Dublin Corporation who do not want to leave the service of that body but who, because of the exigencies of the situation, may have to do so. If you make the two bodies inter-transferable from the point of view of staff, such an officer at some future date may get back to his original service. I never meant to suggest that the officers of the existing authorities going into the new health authority would become self-contained units. I do not think that would be practicable or feasible at all.
The Minister said he could not see that any official would be hurt by leaving a smaller body and going into a greater one. That may apply in the case of the other bodies which are being taken over but it does not apply to an officer of the Dublin Corporation who is transferred to the new health authority. The Dublin Corporation is a greater organisation at the moment than the new health authority will be and, even when the present health services are taken from it, it will still be the greater body. Therefore, an officer leaving the service of Dublin Corporation and going into the health authority, whatever about any other body, will undoubtedly be going from a greater to a lesser service.
At present, any Dublin Corporation officer could become Dublin City Manager. If he is transferred to the new health authority, as I see it, such an achievement on his part would be completely impossible. The Minister also mentioned that, in the new health authority, there will be opportunities for men of capacity. I should like to think that that is so and if it were so it would answer a lot of difficulties. Surely, the new health authority will take over from existing bodies a duplication of top echelon. In other words, all these authorities have at the moment chief executives. If you take over four or five distinct authorities surely you must take over four or five sets of chief executives? Therefore, at the top of the new health authority, there must be a surfeit of top managerial people. I cannot see in those circumstances how the officers to be transferred will have more opportunities in the new service.
I realise that the situation is very difficult. It is very hard to see what the perfect solution is but I would like the Minister to think seriously about the suggestions I have put forward.
I appreciate that in any unification of services where you have an amalgamation of staffs you are bound to have certain difficulties. I appreciate the difficulties of the Minister in this regard and I certainly do not want to make a difficult situation more difficult for him. Deputy Haughey has pin-pointed a problem in relation to certain local authority officers and I trust the Minister will give further consideration to it. I think I mentioned it to him elsewhere.
You have a situation, as Deputy Haughey said, where people who entered the service of the local authority, be it a corporation or a county council, had local authority promotions at their feet provided they had the ability, energy and application to pursue these higher posts. It is an injustice that a young man with perhaps one, two or three years' service with the local authority who happens on the appointed day to be attached to an office in the City Hall in Dublin or the City Hall in Cork, or county council offices elsewhere dealing with health services, must, with no option, be transferred to the service of the new health authority.
I feel that anybody who has undergone a competitive examination and was recruited to the service of a local authority on the understanding that he could pursue his work and his studies for promotion in various branches of that local authority has certain rights. It is unjust to say to him: "It happens to be the 29th February of this year"—whatever the operative date may be—"and henceforth we are putting you into the new health authority" where to my mind the opportunities for progress and promotion will be much less. I do not know whether it would be feasible —I am not competent to judge—but the Minister should look at the suggestion that officers who find themselves in that position should be given the option of remaining with the authority which they joined and to which they were recruited after competitive examination or going on to the new health authority. That suggestion may present difficulties that are not apparent to me. I think it would be a just solution of the case. I would ask the Minister to have another look at it.
I appreciate what the Minister said regarding anomalies that may arise in recruiting people from different authorities into one major authority. It is quite true that three separate bodies may be amalgamated into one new health authority. If three people come in from each of the separate authorities, each carrying the title of "Secretary" or "Accountant" or some office of that description, you are bound to have an anomaly where the new health authority must appoint a Secretary and an Accountant.
I appreciate the Minister has come very far under this section at least to protect the salary scale, service and superannuation of all of them, no matter how they might be described, but I hope the Minister will approach the problem in this fashion—that where he can avoid these anomalies, he will do so. If, for instance, one health authority amalgamates three former boards and only one person comes in holding the description of office of secretary and only one person comes in holding the description of office of accountant, the Minister will take the wise and prudent line-and perhaps the line of least resistance—of allowing that person to carry that description of his office into the new authority.
I know there may be difficulties about that if you have two or three people endeavouring to carry their descriptions of office into the new authority. While the Minister may appreciate the anomalies that may arise, I hope he will be convinced in his own mind to take all possible steps to avoid them. I do not wish to press the Minister unduly but if he wishes to comment on the situation, I should like to hear from him. If not, I am prepared to wait until the Report Stage when he might give the matter further consideration.
Naturally, any Minister, either I, my predecessor or my successor, whoever he may be, wants to bring changes of this sort about with the least possible inconvenience or hardship to any existing officer. I should like to do that but I cannot guarantee that any officer will be transferred with all the conditions that he thinks are appropriate to himself. That just cannot be done. We shall try to be reasonable about it. I hope the Deputy will take that as being my general approach to it. If he thinks there is any little aspect of the matter that should be dealt with by legislation if he puts down an amendment to that effect for Report Stage I shall be prepared to consider it. But I think the Deputy will find when he comes to consider all the implications of any text he may wish to embody in the Bill, that there has to be some degree of flexibility and that he will not be able to go very much further than I have gone in the Bill.
I have already referred to the position in which officers have been placed under Section 17 of the 1955 Act. That is the position of every officer of a local authority in relation to changes made or in contemplation. The position of the officers of the existing health authorities, which are being dealt with by the Bill, in relation to their duties, is as laid down in Section 10 of the Local Government Act of 1941, which says:
Every officer appointed shall perform such duties as such local authority may from time to time assign to him.
Therefore, in fact, when officers are being transferred to the service of a Health Authority by an appointing body—because that is what will be done under this Bill—they are being transferred and assigned to their duties in accordance with Section 10 of the Act of 1941.
Now in relation to the points that have been raised by Deputy Haughey. When he asks me to try to confine promotions and appointments to the new Dublin Health Authority I have to say that we are trying to do the reverse. The whole purpose indeed of all local government legislation in relation to officers since the State came into existence has been to break down the water-tight compartments which exist between one local authority and another, whether that local authority happens to be the Dublin Corporation, Cork Corporation or a County Council.
One of the original objectives of the whole Sinn Féin policy was to try to create interchangeability as between officers of one local authority and another so that an officer of ability, whether he was recruited to, say, Leitrim County Council or Dublin Corporation, might aspire to the highest and most responsible position in the local government administration. If you look at the whole corpus of local government law you will I see running through it this idea of having the more responsible jobs thrown open to the competition of everybody. We have it in relation to the Dublin City Manager and in relation to the vacancies which arise for county medical officers and others. These positions are thrown open to public competition so that the citizens of the cities and counties will have the services of the best men available to them.
We do not confine this question of public competition for appointments under the Local Appointments Commission even to the top posts. Only the other day there came before me in the ordinary course the names of those people who had been recommended by the Local Appointments Commission for appointment as health inspectors in the City of Dublin. Some of these people were not born in the City of Dublin and were not serving officers under Dublin Corporation. They came from other places. In the same way some people born in Dublin have been appointed health inspectors under county councils somewhere down the country. That is the sort of flexibility we are trying to achieve in our health services and in our local government services.
Quite frankly, it would not be possible. It would be running against the tide. It would be turning our backs on the objectives which have been pursued by every Government since the foundation of this State if we were to accept the principle that promotion under the new authority must be reserved to the persons who had the good fortune to be in the service of one or other of the appointing bodies. We cannot have that. I think we have got to make up our minds that it is contrary to the general trend of public opinion. We have got to make it quite clear that the Dublin Health Authority will have to follow the good example of the County Council and try to get the best men wherever they are serving.
I do not think any other point has been raised in the course of the discussion on this section, but if there is any other point where there is weakness in the section, and if any Deputy wishes to put down an amendment on the Report Stage to remedy it, I promise to consider the amendment. When I see its text and see precisely what the Deputy putting down the amendment has in mind, I shall try to meet his point of view. But I want to make it quite clear that I shall not turn back the clock and revert to the situation which existed before 1918.
I have just one question. The Minister has made his policy of flexibility quite clear. May I ask the Minister if an officer of the new health authority will be able to apply for appointments which become vacant in Dublin Corporation?
If that means that these appointments are going to be filled through the Local Appointments Commission, he would; but, if it means that he is going to ask to be re-transferred from the service of the health authority—put it this way—if he has been transferred from the service of the Dublin Corporation to the service of the health authority and then wishes to be re-transferred back—is that what the Deputy has in mind?
No. My point is that at the moment promotion in the Dublin Corporation is within its own ranks. If that situation still applies then the flexibility which the Minister requires will not come about because an officer of the health authority will not be able to apply for a post becoming vacant in the Dublin Corporation.
Here I am in this difficulty. If the Dublin Corporation decide that an officer of theirs who has been transferred to the health authority will be entitled to be considered for promotion, which might arise on the local government side—it could not be on the health side—in relation to what would be described normally as a local government administrative or executive post then, of course, I would have to consider what my attitude would be in relation to that for this reason, that the transfer back of an officer from service of the Health Authority to the service of the Dublin Corporation might create some administrative difficulties for the Health Authority but I will think over that. I cannot see it getting to the position that this sort of re-transfer would become automatic. I think there would have to be at least the consent of the Ministers involved, and I am not so certain, having regard to the views which have been expressed to me by the representatives of the local government officials, that they would welcome that sort of exchange. However, I will consider the position and see what can be done about it.
There is one matter in connection with that which I should like to have explained by the Minister. At present there are a city health authority in Cork, a county health service, sanatoria committee, mental hospital committee, South Cork Board of Assistance. There are five different secretaries. They are in charge. None of those will get the job as secretary of the health service. The Minister has stated previously that those men would not be lowered in their positions. They will be made lower in their positions if there is a secretary put over them by the Local Appointments Commissioners.
There is a secretary of the South Cork Board of Public Assistance, a Secretary of the County Sanatoria Committee, a Secretary of the Mental Hospital Committee, a Secretary of Cork Health Services and a Secretary of the County Health Service. That makes five. Is the job to be confined to the five or will we get someone else from Donegal?
Who is the Secretary of the Board of Assistance or of the Mental Hospital Board?
Is the chief clerk not the secretary?
I shall tell you all about it in a few minutes.
Deputy Casey calls him one thing and I call him another. I want to know what the position is. Will there be a secretary brought in by the Local Appointments Commissioners in whom I have no faith at all now?
We were doing a reasonably good job until Deputy Corry intervened.
I should like the Minister to explain to me how those people are not to be lowered in their status or their position while at the same time somebody is put over them by the Local Appointments Commissioners.
The Minister explained that a short time ago.
When Deputy Corry was not here.
Will the Minister kindly explain it to me? There is no good in explaining it to those who have not yet come to the use of reason. I should like to hear the Minister on that. I am sorry. I did not know the Minister had already explained.
The Deputy is quite entitled to intervene. I should like to give the Deputy the explanation he asks; but surely he does not expect me to carry in my head full particulars of the status, emoluments, duties and responsibilities of those five officers to whom he has referred. The first thing I gather from Deputy Casey is that there is one of these posts vacant.
Two of them.
There should be no difficulty in dealing with those two.
That leaves you four.
The next thing I understand is that at least two of those mentioned are non-statutory, staff officers, in fact, staff clerks.
I do not know. After all, I just do not carry the whole Organisation and personnel of the health services in my head, so I do not know. What I do hope for is that by the effluxion of time all these problems which Deputy Corry has put to me will be solved. We are already in a fair way to solving them in relation to the Chief Medical Officer for Cork City and County. We shall do so in the near future in the case of the Dublin Authority. There are a number of these posts which, as I say, are falling vacant and we just do not have to fill them.
That is how we deal with some of them. We do not have to deal with people who have not been appointed or promoted. But, nobody will be dealt with harshly. That is all I can say. He will carry over to the unified authority his emoluments, his superannuation rights, his prospects of promotion—in fact these may be improved if he is in fact suitable for promotion.
As to his title, I do not think it matters. I think that is a label which can be quite readily changed. That is my position in relation to all the personnel who will be affected by the Bill. All I can say is that I am hoping. As I have said at the outset, my predecessor would not have dealt harshly with them; my successor I am sure will not deal harshly with them and neither shall I. That is all I can say.
Would it not be easier for the senior officer to take over than to have this kind of thing? It is all right to say that they have their chance of promotion but generally a young secretary is brought in by the Local Appointments Commissioners and there is not much chance of shifting him for a long time.
In the case of Cork they will probably shift him up to Dublin.
No. Since the Local Appointments Commissioners became ruled by a certain secret society all from Dublin North come down to us.
This is out of order. It does not arise.
I call a spade a spade. I am worried about that particular aspect of it and I would like to see something done about it.
Between now and the Report Stage the Deputy can cogitate and draft an amendment which I hope will be acceptable to me.
This section provides for the establishment of the post of C.E.O. for the Dublin Health Authority.
This section and Section 19 taken together will enable arrangements to be made for dealing with the county and city medical officers in the four areas in which health authorities are being established.
Might I ask the Minister a question in regard to that? In County Limerick where we have a city medical officer and a county medical officer, under this section when the Bill is passed which one of these medical officers will be regarded as the one to advise the new Health Authority, or will they have equal functions in the matter?
They will. So long as there are two officers, two people who at the moment enjoy the status of being County Medical Officer or Chief Medical Officer, in the service of the one authority they will enjoy equal rights in respect of the area for which they are at the moment responsible.
I move amendment No. 20:
In page 15, before section 20, to insert the following section:—
"20.—(1) A sanitary authority may, if at any time they are not satisfied with—
(a) the assignment of duties in relation to any of their functions to an officer or a class of officers to whom this section applies, or
(b) the performance of duties assigned in relation to any of their functions to an officer or a class of officers to whom this section applies,
request the Minister to issue a direction to the health authority concerned to provide for a satisfactory assignment or satisfactory performance (as may be appropriate) of such duties.
(2) After considering a request under subsection (1) of this section and any representations made in relation to the request by the health authority concerned, the Minister may issue such direction (if any) as he thinks fit to the health authority in relation to the assignment or performance of the duties referred to in the request, and the health authority shall forthwith comply with any such direction.
(3) This section applies to any officer under a health authority established by this Act who holds an office in relation to which the provisions of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 10 and section 20 of the Local Government Act, 1941, apply as if it were also an office under the sanitary authority of every sanitary district in the functional area of that health authority."
This arises, I think, out of a point which was made to me by a deputation from the city of Cork. They expressed some doubt as to the degree of satisfaction which the municipal authority as the sanitary authority might secure from the services of officers of the new unified health authority. The purpose of the amendment is to give the manager of a sanitary authority in any of the four areas in which health authorities are being set up by the Bill a right to appeal to the Minister if he is dissatisfied with the arrangements for the performance of the work of the sanitary authority by any of the officers concerned.
I think this arises out of representations by a deputation from Cork Corporation. The Corporation is concerned about some of the functions that are now performed by their health inspectors. As I understand the situation the Cork Corporation have in their employment 13 or 14 Health Inspectors and Cork County Council for the vast area that it serves have something as low as four or five people. We are concerned because under the new Health Authority the services of all the Health Inspectors will be amalgamated under the direction of whoever is the Chief Medical Officer of the new Authority. If all these people are to be brought in together you have 18 or 19 people.
We feel that there is a need at the moment for the number of Health Inspectors that we have in Cork city to perform the various functions placed on the Corporation under the various Health Acts. We also have a suspicion or feeling that when this new authority is set up and when our 14 Health Inspectors are amalgamated with the four county health inspectors that we will end up by having very much less than 14 health inspectors in Cork to carry out all the functions that we desire to carry out, the services that are statutory obligations on the Corporation in relation to the housing Acts and to the sanitary Acts. We are wondering what the situation will be if Cork Corporation feels that the new health authority has not allocated to the city sufficient health inspectors to carry out these statutory duties.
The Minister's amendment in a half-hearted manner attempts to deal with the situation. Instead of stipulating that the Corporation should have at its disposal the number of health inspectors required to carry out these functions it simply says that if the sanitary authority—the Corporation will be a sanitary authority in this context—feels at any time aggrieved by the situation as to the assignment of duties or performance of duties they may request the Minister to issue directions to the parent body—to the health authority concerned—to provide for a satisfactory assignment or satisfactory performance of such duties.
Perhaps there was no other course open to the Minister when he saw the flaw in the Bill as pointed out to him by the deputation. He obviously accepted the Corporation's case and did realise that there was this flaw in the Bill as originally drafted and in this amendment he has made an effort to deal with that shortcoming.
I am still convinced that he is not dealing with it adequately. It would be open to any Minister from time to time to receive complaints from Cork Corporation as to the duties allocated by the parent health authority to their health inspectors in respect of Cork City and county. I should have thought that the Minister would approach the problem in this manner: that he would say: "Here you have Cork Corporation, a sanitary authority. You have statutory obligations imposed on them by legislation passed in this House to carry out certain duties in respect of the Housing Acts and in respect of food and hygiene and one hundred and one other things." I hoped he would say to himself: "Having placed that obligation on Cork Corporation I deem it would be necessary for that sanitary authority to have in its employment so many health inspectors." I hoped he would have left to the Cork Corporation in their separate employment so many health inspectors to carry out these duties rather than throw us on the tender mercies of Deputy Corry and other members of the County Council who must then judge the obligations of the Cork Corporation in respect of the Acts I have mentioned.
Perhaps the Minister would find an opportunity to have another look at that and to appreciate that this House has placed obligations on Cork Corporation to carry out the laws passed in this House and to study my submission that while the Corporation up to now have taken the necessary steps to carry out their obligations, that power is being filched from them in so far as the Cork City Manager or Chief Medical Officer in our health section will not have under his own direct control the health officers to carry out these obligations. I am asking to have this matter looked into again.
I can give Deputy Casey a definite guarantee in that regard that they will be looked after to the extent of 28 votes to 12.
Does Deputy Casey not know that Deputy Corry's bark is very much worse than his bite? There is no man with a softer heart in this House than Deputy Corry and I am sure he will not treat Cork City in that rough and ready fashion, as he pretends he intends to do when he is speaking here.
It is not easy to find a rigid line of demarcation and for the time being I would suggest to Deputy Casey: let us try this. If at the end of a period it is found not to work and can be shown not to have worked because of the intransigence of Deputy Corry, I am sure any Minister for Health would be prepared to amend it in order to safeguard the citizens of the City of Cork.
I should like to make it clear that I have never heard any difference of opinion as regards the work of officials as between the city and the South Cork area during the 17 years I have been Chairman of the South Cork Board. There has never been any difference of opinion whatever despite the fact that for every shilling being spent we were paying eight pence. I challenge Deputy Casey to mention any instance in which there was a difference of opinion in that regard. As regards Deputy Casey's objection, I suggest a very easy remedy. If the Cork Corporation are prepared to pay for all the officials they want on that board, I am sure the county have no objection.
I wish to put this point to the Minister. The Cork Corporation will have in its employ a chief medical officer who will have certain duties to perform and he will need a staff of health inspectors to perform those statutory duties. It may well be, and I think it is almost inevitable, he will not be provided by the main Health Authority with sufficient staff to carry out these duties. You will have the situation in Cork where, for instance, the housing department will not have officials to go around to examine the housing conditions of the people or the health department to inspect premises in relation to the food and hygiene regulations.
Is the Minister not worried at the situation that is bound to arise whereby you have an executive officer charged to carry out certain obligations and somebody else set up under this Bill with control of the staff which should be available to the first man to carry out these duties? I do not think the Minister has met the situation. He says that if the sanitary authority feel that the "big brother" in the main health authority has not assigned a sufficient number of staff to them, they may appeal to the Minister. The fact is that the City Medical Officer of Health may be charged in court with not performing the functions with which he is charged, while the Minister is considering an appeal from the Corporation as to the number of staff employed.
I do not wish to raise a scare but I think I am right in saying the Minister is worried about the situation. He should have brought in a stronger amendment whereby he would stipulate in this Bill that it would be mandatory under the new Health Authority to assign a certain number of health inspectors to carry out the functions placed on the Cork Corporation by Acts of this House. It is only fair to the Corporation, to the City Manager and the Chief Medical Officer in Cork City, if you put obligations on them, to give them the means of carrying them out. The means they have enjoyed up to now are being taken from them under this Bill.
There might be a wide difference of opinion as to the number of people required to do a job of work and there is undoubtedly a wide difference of opinion in that line as between the county and the city.
There is a wide difference in our health services.
We have no objection to Cork Corporation doubling or trebling the number of officials as long as they pay for it themselves. The days when we paid eightpence out of every shilling are gone.
It has been said: "Blessed are the peacemakers." Trebly blessed would be he who could make peace between the Cork Corporation and the Cork County Council.
That is a new thing, to find the Minister in the rôle of peacemaker. That is a new line of country.
Deputy Casey's consideration of this section has been coloured by the sparring we have listened to here. It does not relate to Cork City and County only. It is a section which is designed to be of general application and it is drafted in that form. It would be I think very wrong for this House to specify by legislation the number of health inspectors or other inspectors who would be appointed by any one of— or in fact, as would be necessary to do if we accepted the principle—all the new unified health authorities.
We must approach this in a way which will be of general application and it is with that objective that the section has been drafted in its present form. Again, Deputy Casey is under a misapprehension. There will be one chief medical officer who will have under his direction and supervision the health services for the whole of the City and County of Cork and who will be responsible, under the health authority, of course, for them. He will be the top of the pinnacle and he will be responsible to all the members of that health authority, to those who are appointed by Cork Corporation as well as to those who are appointed by Cork County Council. If those who are appointed by the Corporation can move their body to make representations to the Minister that they are not getting a fair deal in relation to sanitary services which will still remain as the responsibility of the Cork Corporation, then I am sure the Minister for Health will be very sympathetic in considering their difficulties.
There is no reason to anticipate that the citizens of Cork City will suffer in any way from the actions of the health authority. On the question of food hygiene to which Deputy Casey has referred, they are the functions and remain the functions of the health authority and if there is any reason to feel that the officers of the Health Authorities are lax or not zealous in the fulfilment of their duties under the Acts relating to food, he will be able to have that situation remedied.
I intervene very briefly to say that it would be deplorable if anyone in this House or outside of it imagined that there is any kind of acrimony between the members of the Cork Corporation and of Cork County Council where health services are concerned. I serve on three separate unified bodies in the county and, as Deputy Corry has already said, there is never any difference of opinion as between the county and the city. Nobody knows better than Deputy Casey that Deputy Corry's remarks have the support of a not very large minority of the county council. Therefore I think it is waste of the time of this House to be debating these matters here. I should like it to go from here that, as far as health is concerned, there is no limit to the co-operation that exists between members of the corporation and the county council and there is no need for any fears that the welfare of the people will suffer.
Do I understand the Deputy to advise us to ignore Deputy Corry?
That is the general idea.
What I objected to here was the suspicion that is in Deputy Casey's mind.
The Deputy had better deal with Deputy Healy and not mind Deputy Casey.
I can deal with the two Deputies. For nine years I have been chairman of the joint body which deals with both city and county and I can challenge both Deputy Healy and Deputy Casey to mention one instance in which fair play was not given, despite the fact that I had the knowledge that for every shilling by which expenditure increased the county had to find 8d and the city 4d and in the division of that 1/- the city got 8d and the county only got 4d. Still I acted fairly and when the new body is in operation I will continue to act fairly.
I move amendment No. 21:
In subsection (4), page 16, line 5, to delete "On the commencement of this subsection," and in line 7 to insert "which shall be expressed to come into operation on the commencement of this section," before "provide".
The purpose of the amendment is to enable the making of the order setting up the new joint health bodies to replace the present mental hospital boards in anticipation of the present boards going out of existence. As the subsection is drafted the Minister would not be able to make the order until the terms of the subsection are put into force. It would be more convenient to be able to make the order in advance of that date.
This is an important section of the Bill. It provides that any function in respect of which a resolution is required shall be a reserved function and shall be exercisable by members of the county council or city corporation as appropriate.
I take it that the words "reserved function" mean a function which is reserved to the members of the body and is not to be exercised by the executive or the manager.
It is a function not to be exercised other than by members of the body.
Is that not an unusual use of the word? Does it not generally go the other way?
No, this is the usual use of the phrase.
Section 22, subsection (2) deals with the appointment of members to the South Cork Charitable Infirmary and to the North Cork Infirmary and I should like the Minister to elucidate the matter further. The section provides that the right of appointment of members of the joint management committee of these institutions shall now be held by the new Cork Health Authority. Up to now the combined committee of the North and South Infirmaries were appointed by Cork County Council, Cork Corporation and the trustees of these infirmaries. Are we to take it that all the appointments, some of which are reserved for the trustees, are now to be given over to the new health authority or that the appointments which are now reserved to the new health authority are only those which Cork Corporation and Cork County Council made heretofore?
Only those at present made by the Corporation and County Council. The position of the trustees will remain as it has been. Cork Corporation appoints eight members to the North infirmary and eight to the South infirmary while the County Council appoints eight to the North infirmary and nine to the South infirmary and in addition there are 12 other members of each of these bodies. That position will remain unchanged except for the fact that henceforward the health authority, which will now become the contributing authority, will appoint the members in each case.
I referred to that problem last week. Each of these infirmaries had a charter and according to that charter the appointment of the members is to be made by the parent body. I want to know whether, if this Bill provides for that, it will be acceptable under the charter?
I do not know the date of the charter.
It is very old.
Then it will be acceptable under the Charter. The existing appointments are made under the Local Government Act of 1898.
I wonder if the Minister is satisfied regarding the whole position of the voluntary hospitals? We all know that the majority of these have changed over the years and, even prior to the enactment of our Health Acts, the Cork Charitable Infirmary and the North Infirmary were carrying out functions which they no longer do. They are now largely able to make their claims on the local authority under the Health Acts for every patient who is treated in these institutions. To my mind, it is important to continue the good work done by these institutions particularly by the voluntary members of the Board. I think we have come to the stage at which we should realise that the voluntary aspect, as it was known in the past, of these charitable institutions has largely been removed by the Health Acts. I do not know if the Minister is satisfied that he can now at this stage still allocate to the trustees of these institutions the appointment on the Board of such a large number of people vis-a-vis the number of people who are appointed by the local authorities who, in the main, are paying the bill of those institutions.
I am further worried about the situation whereby the Cork Health Authority, this new omnibus authority, will appoint their nominees directly to the management committees of this institution. We all know that our health authority would have a preponderance of people from outside the Cork Corporation. If these people so wished it—I do not think they would; I do not think the present members would, at any rate, but I am trying to look into the future—if the representatives of the Cork County Council at any future date wished it they could ensure that no member of the Corporation would be representative on the South or the North Infirmary. I do not think there is any immediate danger of people like my friend, Deputy Corry, endeavouring to squeeze out the representatives of the Cork Corporation. Legislation is bad which permits people to do something sinister like that, if they wish to do so, and the Minister should have a look at it.
There is another situation, too, that the Cork Corporation is responsible for certain repairs and replacements at the South Infirmary. Would that still apply to the Corporation or to the new health authority?
It goes to the new health authority under Subsection (3) of Section 7 which reads:
Where, with respect to a public general infirmary for a county and a county borough included in the functional area of a health authority established by this Act, there existed, immediately before the establishment of the health authority, any function under statute of a local authority to make any payment to the infirmary, that function shall, on such establishment, become by virtue of this subsection a function of the health authority.
I assume, therefore, that the word "payment" includes repairs.
I move amendment No. 22:
In page 19, before Section 23, to insert the following section:—
"23.—(1) On the commencement of this section, the following portions of this Act shall cease to have effect:—
(a) the words ‘together with, with respect to functions related to the operation of services under the Mental Treatment Acts, 1945 to 1958, the administrative county of Wicklow' in subsection (4) of Section 2;
(b) Subsection (5) of Section 2;
(c) the words ‘with the addition, in the case of the Dublin Health Authority, of the proportion chargeable to the council of the county of Wicklow of the net health expenditure of the Grangegorman Mental Hospital Board in respect of the standard year' in subsection (2) of Section 14;
(d) subsection (3) of Section 14.
(2) The general duty under Part IV of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, to provide treatment, maintenance, advice and services for a person suffering from mental illness who is ordinarily resident in the county of Wicklow shall, by virtue of this section, become vested in the health authority within the meaning of the Health Act, 1947, in whose functional area such person is ordinarily resident.
(3) The Minister may by regulations—
(a) make any adaptations or modifications of sections 11 and 12 of this Act or of any agreement or determination under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 11 of this Act which appear to him to be necessary having regard to the commencement of this section;
(b) make any other consequential or ancillary provisions which appear to him to be necessary having regard to such commencement, including, in particular, provisions relating to—
(i) the transfer or retention of property or liabilities,
(ii) the payment, on account of any such transfer or retention, of money, either in one sum or by instalments,
(iii) the transfer of patients."
The purpose of this amendment is to provide that where the Wicklow County Council might desire to become responsible for their own mental treatment service this will enable that to be done if they wish to do it but only if they wish to do it.
I want some clarification if not now then on the Report Stage.
This is an amendment to section 23, to include a new section.
It appears that it will be subject to the Dublin health authority and that the Dublin health authority may call the representatives of Wicklow if they think it is necessary while at the present time they meet monthly. Under this Bill, unless something is on the Agenda dealing with the particular area of Wicklow, am I to take it that the representatives will not be called?
That is so. If there is anything about mental treatment they will be entitled to vote. It is only in relation to something relating to the mental health services, however, that they can vote.
Only if the Dublin health authority required the representatives to attend?
I should not like to commit myself to the statement that they must attend only when required.
It will do on the Report Stage.
I think it would be whenever there is a question relating to the mental health services on which they would normally attend if the Grangegorman Board were in existence. Where they would normally attend, I think they would still continue to attend. I confess I could not answer the question: Will they be required to attend only when the question of the mental health services, confined to the Wicklow area, is under review?
At present they meet monthly. I take it that that will not occur now unless it is required by the health authority to discuss mental cases only?
That may be so.
Surely the Minister does not mean to say the Wicklow members will be limited?
They are there only for the purposes of dealing with cases coming under the Mental Treatment Acts.
Will you not have a rather awkward situation? Who is to determine when a Wicklow representative may attend? I think Deputy Everett's point is not when must they attend but when may they attend. Can a situation arise in which an elected representative of the joint board, the Dublin and Wicklow Health Board, presents himself and is told by an officer of the Board "We will not let you in"?
I will read the section now to refresh my memory of it. I do not think I was inaccurate in what I said to Deputy Everett. It is subsection (4) of Section 2:
The functional area of the Dublin Health Authority shall consist of the county borough of Dublin and the administrative county of Dublin, together with, with respect to functions related to the operation of services under the Mental Treatment Acts, 1945 to 1958, the administrative county of Wicklow.
(5) (a) Three members of the council of the county of Wicklow shall be appointed by resolution by that council for the purposes of this subsection.
Here is the relevant paragraph, paragraph (b) of subsection (5):
Where the whole or part of a meeting of the Dublin Health Authority is occupied with business relating to the Mental Treatment Acts, 1945 to 1958, the persons appointed pursuant to this subsection shall, as respects the whole or the said part (as the case may be) of the meeting, be entitled to be present and to take part in discussions and to vote in like manner as if they were members of the Dublin Health Authority.
I think it is quite clear. As I said, when business in relation to the Mental Treatment Acts is under consideration, the representatives of Wicklow County Council——
I do not want to create difficulties at this stage but I would direct the Minister's attention to this matter. The three members representative of Wicklow have an undoubted right to attend the meetings in certain circumstances. If these members present themselves as desiring to attend a meeting and are informed by the clerk of the authority "There is no business to-day for discussion under the Mental Treatment Acts, 1945 to 1958, and therefore your attendance is not required", are they not entitled to reply "Is there not an item on the Agenda. ‘Any other business'? We have come here to-day to raise a matter relative to the Mental Treatment Acts, 1945 to 1958, which is not specifically mentioned on the Agenda but which we desire to raise as a matter of other business."
Do not ask me how the health authority will conduct its business.
I put it to the Minister that this is not a case of where the health authority, sitting in the discharge of its business, wants to make its own standing orders. This is a case where there are representatives of Dublin City and County and three representatives of Wicklow. We are declaring, by Statute of this House, that they have a limited right of participating in the proceedings. As Deputy Everett says, the practice at present is that the body dealing with this matter meets monthly and the representatives of Wicklow attend monthly and, if there is anything on their minds, they can raise it. Knowing that local representatives sometimes find certain subjects of intense interest to themselves, can the Minister not conceive of a situation in which the local representatives of Wicklow feel there is some grievance in relation to the mental hospital which they think requires urgent ventilation and they intend to come as a body to the meeting to raise this matter? They are met by the Clerk who says: "There is nothing on the agenda relating to the Mental Treatment Act. I will not let you in." They say: "There is something on the agenda. There is ‘Other Business', and the purpose of our coming here is to raise with the authority an urgent matter relating to the Mental Treatment Acts, 1945 to 1958, in their application to the people on whose behalf we speak."
I am only putting this to the Minister in order to avoid trouble in the smooth working of these arrangements. Is it really necessary that you should exclude these three Wicklow representatives from a meeting of the joint body? Presumably, if they have no interest in the proceedings because there is nothing coming up on the agenda relating to Wicklow, they will not come. But, are you not creating unnecessary difficulty for yourself if you construct a situation in which three public representatives are liable to be challenged at the door by an officer of the authority itself when they believe they have a right to attend and he, interpreting the Statute, believes they have not? Why should we not allow them to attend every meeting? If they do not want to come, they need not attend. If they do come and attempt to participate in the proceedings, they are a very small minority of the total membership and are not likely to do any serious harm.
I will suggest to Deputy Dillon, the Leader of the Opposition, that if he wishes to discuss this matter further, it would perhaps arise more appropriately on the First Schedule to the Bill, because that does provide for the calling of a meeting on request by three members of a health authority. It also provides for giving three days' notice of any matter which it is proposed to raise at a meeting of the Authority. I assume that in no circumstances would the three members for Wicklow turn up without having been given due notice and, therefore, the clerk could not inform them that there was no matter on the agenda relating to the Mental Treatment Acts.
I do not think the matter is of great substance, but I do not think it is a matter to which the Minister has turned his mind.
When Deputy Dillon comes to the Schedule he will see that my mind did turn specifically on that.
I am just thinking of my own experience on local authorities. A member of a local authority who feels he has some urgent business to do may feel it is desirable to turn up and clamour for admission. In general, it does not make for smooth working to make it, through a Statute of this House, not only a right of but a duty on a servant of the local authority to meet at the door a member of the local authority and forbid him to enter. If the smooth working of the health authority requires it, perhaps it would be necessary to do it; but if it is not essential, then I do not think any member of the local authority should be turned away by the authority of this House by an officer of the local authority of which he is an elected member.
If the Deputy will raise that point on the First Schedule, which prescribes rules relating to membership and meetings of health authorities established under the Act, that would then, perhaps, get the discussion in its proper perspective.
Our representatives may only be called when the Dublin Health Authority decides that the question of mental treatment is to be discussed and would inform them of the rate to be levied on County Wicklow?
I do not think so.
Will the Minister have power to make regulations for the holding of monthly or quarterly meetings to deal with mental cases only?
If the Deputy would turn to the Schedule which I mentioned, he will see there that, in fact, as there are three members from Wicklow on the Dublin Health Authority, they would be able to call a meeting themselves if the chairman did not do it. We are really not discussing this in a very orderly fashion. We could deal with the whole question of meetings when we come to the First Schedule. The First Schedule provides that the public health authority will meet once a month for the transaction of business, and I am perfectly certain that if it is doing its business there will be some items on the agenda relating to mental treatment.
What will happen under the Minister's last amendment?
The amendment I have now moved is to permit the Wicklow County Council, if it wishes to do so, to make its own arrangements for mental treatment. I am not saying they should do that but it does give me power, if in their wisdom they so decide, to say that they can have a modern mental hospital in Wicklow with my blessing.
Can the Minister see any objection simply to allow the three members representative of Wicklow to attend on the basis of equality with others?
I can, because they are only brought in because of the fact that we are absorbing the mental treatment services in Dublin and Wicklow into the Dublin Health Authority. Providentially, I think the Wicklow citizens do not constitute a very large proportion of the mental hospital patients in Grangegorman or elsewhere. We cannot give them equality of service in relation to other things to which they do not contribute. They only contribute for the purposes of mental treatment.
This section merely requires regulations to be laid before the House.
What is the scope of the regulations envisaged? Are they merely procedural or are they regulations of substance?
Some of them would not be procedural. Some of them are in relation to the responsibilities and functions of the local committees to be established under Section 10 of the Act. They would not relate to the services with which these local committees would be particularly concerned.
The point I want to make is this. We take the view that in the modern conditions of legislation it is not unreasonable, where relatively insignificant regulations fall to be made by a Minister, under a Bill, that he should have recourse to the procedure envisaged in Section 23 of the Bill, but that where powers are conferred by a Bill on a Minister to make by regulation substantial amendments of the law or substantial additions to the law, it is more appropriate that these regulations should be the subject of positive conferring resolutions on the motion of the Minister in this House. We would not demur to the procedure of Section 23 if the Minister says the regulations envisaged under this Act would be mainly procedural and of a minor character, but if they could be of a character materially modifying the present corpus of this Statute then we think he ought to bring them here and seek approval of the House on his own motion.
It is not suggested that we are going to amend this Act by regulation. There is nothing of that sort in it. But, when the Leader of the Opposition asks me if the regulations made will relate merely to procedural matters, I am bound to call his attention to the fact that under Section 10 we are setting up local committees which will have functions in relation to their local areas. Some of these functions may, perhaps, relate, for instance, to the dispensary services and so on, so that one could not describe them as being procedural. But the regulations do not permit the Minister in any way to alter the substance—to put it that way—the substance or the corpus of the Health Acts under which we are now operating.
May we assume that no regulation which will be made under the Act will impose a charge?
Oh, no, I would not like to say that. It may apportion expenses, you see, in relation to certain matters but there would be expenses which would have to be borne by one party or the other.
I think that, in those circumstances, the procedure under Section 23 is not the right procedure. The positive approval of Dáil Éireann should be obtained before making a regulation which is going to impose a charge.
Would the Deputy propose to apply that to the whole body of local government law?
No. I have deliberately said that our view is that where regulations under statute are of a relatively insignificant character, in the light of modern legislation trends, it is reasonable to adopt the procedure of Section 23 but where the regulations which the Statute empowers the Minister to make impose a charge or enable him substantially to modify the legislation enacted by this House, he ought to come back to the House for its approval.
We are a little bit at cross-purposes here. Sections 2, 3, 4 and 5, which relate to the membership of the unified authorities to be established under the Act, also provide that the regulations which may be made under these sections shall not become operative until they have been laid before each House and a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each House of the Oireachtas. In regard to those under Section 10, to which I have already referred and those under Section 24, which is the next section we have to deal with, possibly, under that particular section, it is possible to make regulations in respect of any existing statute, order or regulation which is in force at the passing of the Act and such regulations would fall, under Section 23, to be laid before the House but would come into effect and be effective until such time as the House might within the prescribed period annul them by motion. These are sections designed to fit this Act into the whole of the existing code.
I have already referred to that.
This is the usual charging section. We do not anticipate that there will be any extra expenditure so far as the Minister is concerned.
This is merely consequential upon Section 20 of the Bill. It is to make the necessary repeals in the existing Mental Treatment Act.
I move amendment No. 23:—
To add to the section the following subsection:—
"(2) Subsection (1) of this section shall be subject to the restriction that section * of this Act shall not be brought into operation save on the first day of any local financial year after that in which the Dublin Health Authority are established."
Amendment No. 23 is necessary because certain financial complications would arise if Section 23 came into operation.
This is to add a section before the Schedule?
No—to add a new subsection to Section 27.
It is necessary because of the complications which would otherwise arise if the new Section 23 should come into operation at the commencement of a local financial year.
This is the citation, Sir.
I move amendment No. 24.
In rule 2, pages 20 and 21, to delete subparagraph (a) of paragraph (1) and substitute the following subparagraph:
"(a) (i) in the case of the county of Dublin, for each county electoral area in the county (excluding the borough of Dún Laoghaire), one member of the authority shall be appointed from among the county councillors elected for that area,
(ii) in the case of the county of Cork, for each county electoral area in the county, three members of the authority shall be appointed successively from among the county councillors elected for that area,
(iii) in the cases of the county of Limerick and the county of Waterford, for each county electoral area in the county, two members of the authority shall be appointed successively from among the county councillors elected for that area;".
Under the Bill as originally drafted it was proposed that all the members of the new Health Authority be appointed by the county councils concerned, that there should be one from each county electoral area. The purpose of this amendment is to provide that there will be one from each area in the case of Dublin, three in the case of Cork and two in the cases of Limerick and Waterford. These amendments have been introduced as a result of representations which have been made to me by the various appointing bodies concerned.
In regard to subsection (3) of the First Schedule, I understand that in the case of Limerick the Minister now proposes that there shall be two from each of the electoral divisions of the county. Limerick County Council had a deputation to the Minister and, if my information is correct, I think there would be two from each of the electoral divisions. There are five electoral divisions and that would mean a membership of ten for the whole county of Limerick. I suggest that the Minister should reconsider that in the light of the area in question and that he would give the same pro rata membership as he applies to Cork, three to each electoral division. It is provided that the members shall be appointed successively and I would like to hear from the Minister what is meant by “successively”. I would also ask the Minister to bear in mind the point about three members from each of the five electoral areas in the county. That would mean fifteen for the whole county and a more equitable representation of the county at large.
I think that the Deputy and I are at one. In fact, Limerick County Council will have fifteen members on the Health Authority but the provision which I am making in the amendment is that there shall be two at least from each county electoral area. It provides for a minimum of two from each electoral area and five members to be elected from the county at large.
Five to be elected from the remaining members of the County Council?
May I raise one point on the Schedule?
We have not reached the Schedule yet.
This is amendment No. 24, an amendment to the Schedule.
That is an amendment to the Schedule.
My point is in relation to the amendment and to the Schedule. Perhaps, the Chair will recollect the difficulty that arose previously about a Schedule to a Bill and while I do not anticipate that there will be a detailed discussion of this Schedule, I would not like it to be thought that the Schedule might be put into Committee as a whole. Certainly, we would feel that if we did desire to discuss certain parts of the Schedule in detail, that right should be afforded to us and I merely raise that because, while I do not anticipate that there will be a full Committee discussion on the Schedule, I should not like it to be said later on that the Schedule of the Bill had been passed as an entire Schedule.
I do not think the Minister has explained what is meant by "successively".
Would the Deputy refer me to the paragraph?
It is paragraph (iii) of amendment No. 24, which reads:
in the cases of the county of Limerick and the county of Waterford, for each county electoral area in the county, two members of the authority shall be appointed successively from among the county councillors elected for that area;.
You are referring to the amendment?
First of all, you must turn to the procedure whereby the groups may come together and may say: these two members are in that group and they come from that particular district. When two members have been appointed for each county electoral area, there will then be five places to be filled on the Health Authority and these will be filled one after the other. There will not be a bloc vote for the five places. There will not be, should I say, a caucus arrangement covering the whole five places. Instead, if a certain number can come together and say: "We are filling one place and that is our man," he goes in automatically, but they have spent their votes. Another group can then come along and do likewise until the five places are filled. I am talking in terms of five. That is the same thing as is done at present in forming Boards of Assistance and other bodies from county councils. There is no departure from the existing practice so far as these are concerned, the only provision being that there shall be a definite number from each county electoral area.
On the point raised by Deputy O'Higgins, once an amendment has been discussed the entire Schedule may be discussed but there may not be separate decisions in respect of each paragraph of it. It stands in the same relation as the subsections to a section.
Is that the same decision which was given about a month ago?
I understand that what is quite clear is that the Schedule is dealt with as a whole, that the different paragraphs cannot be separated to be matters of separate decision. It must be dealt with as a whole.
I take it we are not to accept this as a definitive ruling of a final character because I think it was an elaborate question which it would not be expedient to pursue now in connection with a Constitution Amendment Bill which was then before us. The Opposition on that occasion took a strong line which eventually prevailed and it is merely to preserve whatever decision was then arrived at that this matter was referred to.
I are quite aware of my limitations.
I have no desire to mention limitation. I am merely explaining the reason for mentioning it.
Are we now on the First Schedule?
We are on amendment No. 25. I move amendment No. 25:
In rule 2, page 21, line 16, to insert "additional" before "members".
I think this relates to the point made by Deputy Jones and that the amendment is designed to correct an error in drafting the provision to define the size of the group necessary to appoint an additional member without voting. As it stands, the number is obtained by dividing the total number of councillors present by the total number of members, including those for county electoral areas, to be appointed. As the size of the group is to be related to the number of members left to be appointed after the council area members have been appointed, this would not be correct and, under the provision as amended, the election in, say, Cork would work out as follows—I saw Deputy Corry rise and I hope I am anticipating him.
That is impossible.
Of the twenty-eight members to be appointed, twenty-one would first be appointed by the Council and then the remaining figure of seven would be divided into the total present, say, forty, out of a total county membership of forty-six. This would give a figure of six, ignoring fractions, and any six Councillors could thus nominate an additional member for appointment without voting. Having done this the Councillors concerned would be excluded from having any further vote and those outside groups would then proceed to fill any vacancies left.
On amendment No. 24——
The Deputy is late. He has been left at the post.
The Deputy may raise the matter on the Schedule.
I move amendment No. 26:
In rule 2 page 21, before paragraph (2), to insert the following paragraph:—
"(2) In subparagraphs (b) to (e) of the foregoing paragraph, ‘councillors' and ‘councillor' do not, in relation to the council of the county of Dublin, include any councillor elected for the county electoral area which is coterminous with the borough of Dún Laoghaire".
This amendment relates to the particular case of the Dún Laoghaire Borough Council which will appoint its own members to the Dublin Health Authority. It is proposed under this amendment that the members of the Dublin County Council who have been elected to that body from Dún Laoghaire area will not participate in the election by the County Council of members to that Authority. This is merely to preserve the principle of one man, one vote in relation to local authorities. The Borough of Dún Laoghaire will be entitled to representation on the Health Authority as a Borough but not as a component of the County Council.
I move amendment No. 27:
In rule 6, page 22, to add the following paragraph to the rule:
"(4) In this and the next Rule ‘member' and ‘members' do not, in relation to the council of the county of Dublin, include any member elected for the county electoral area which is coterminous with the borough of Dún Laoghaire."
This relates to Rule 6. Rule 6 specifies the procedure under which the county council can recall its members from the Dublin Health Authority and appoint new ones instead. Rule 7 provides that where a county council member has for a consecutive period of three months failed to attend a meeting of the Authority he may be replaced by the county council. It is proposed that the county councillors for Dún Laoghaire will not participate in action under these rules. They are not a county council.
I move amendment No. 28:
In rule 8, page 23, line 2, to delete "paragraph (a)" and substitute "subparagraph (a) of paragraph (1)".
This merely corrects a drafting error.
On the Schedule I should like the Minister to consider between now and the Report Stage, this problem. The Wicklow local authority appoints three members to the health authority, admittedly for a restricted purpose, but the interpretation of that restricted purpose will have to be made ultimately by someone, if they are not to be permitted to participate in meetings in which that restricted purpose does not come up for consideration.
I put it to the Minister that that is an unworkable arrangement. I see the Minister's point that he does not think it right that three representatives of the Wicklow County Council, with a very restricted purpose should as a result of that membership be allowed to participate in discussions relating to health matters affecting Dublin City and County. However, the probability of their exercising any effective influence on decisions relating to Dublin City and County is remote in the extreme but there is a great probability of a situation arising in which the three Wicklow representatives, feeling they ought to be entitled to come to the monthly meeting, would raise of their own initiative under the omnibus head which will appear on the agenda: "Any other business" some matter relative to the mental hospital treatment of patients from Wicklow. The very fact that they have not the right to attend will beget a desire on the part of the public representatives to attend and make representations, and you are at once confronted with the awkward situation of a conflict between officers of the authority who have certain duties to discharge, and it will eventually be said: "There is nothing on the agenda which entitles the Wicklow representatives to be here." One of the Wicklow representatives says: "Yes, there is. ‘Other Business,' under which I want to raise the matter of the mental hospitals".
Who will resolve that matter? If it is resolved in a way which forbids the Wicklow representatives to enter the room and participate in the proceedings you may face the situation in which the validity of the whole proceedings of the health authority for that day are called in question. Is it not much simpler to say that the three Wicklow members will take their place pari passu with all the other members of the Authority? It has to be borne in mind that the decisions of the Authority representatives of the Dublin Corporation and the Dublin County Council which affect Wicklow interests will be voted upon and spoken upon by representatives of Dublin city and county.
Is there any outrage on procedure in making it possible for a public representative from Wicklow to speak or vote relative to a matter affecting Dublin city or county if it makes it procedurally very much more convenient for everybody? It is highly unlikely that any Wicklow representative will concern himself in a matter which is purely of interest to the residents of Dublin city or county but if some Wicklow representative wanted to express an opinion or record a vote it is not likely that any irreparable damage would be done. Certainly my experience from serving on a local authority is that one of the most treasured rights of a member of a local council is, if he believes there is something wrong, to come to the monthly meeting and raise that matter at the meeting. It is a great protection for the average person that, if there is something going wrong at the mental hospital or even if he thinks there is, he has a right to come to his representative and ask him to raise it at the next monthly meeting. It is an un-desirable thing that a situation should arise that some routine complaint of that character would not be raised because a Wicklow representative would not be admitted and that three representatives from Wicklow could call a special meeting of the whole authority to raise some matter which if they had been allowed to raise it might have been disposed of in five minutes at the ordinary monthly meeting.
I am not of opinion that any such matter of principle is here involved. I am solely concerned to suggest to the Minister that he is creating trouble for himself. There will be a very much smoother operation if the Wicklow members are treated as being equals in all respects of the other members of the health authority. If he seeks to put them in a different position they will surely resolve that at all costs. There will appear on the agenda some thing every month which will give them the right to be present because they will not want to occupy an inferior position in the health authority as representatives of the County Wicklow local authority. Deputies who have experience of local authority work will confirm what I say. I do not raise this matter on principle but purely as a matter of expediency to ensure the smooth working of this body. The Minister would be well advised to consider what I am saying between now and the Report Stage.
I should certainly be glad to consider the point Deputy Dillon has made. It is a point of some substance though I should have thought, having read the Schedule, that for the purpose of the Mental Treatment Act the three Wicklow representatives of the health authority could summon a meeting for the purpose of considering any matter arising under the Mental Treatment Act. There may be some doubt about that. There could scarcely arise any question of excluding the members of the Wicklow County Council from a meeting. They could quite reasonably be allowed to attend but not vote on any matter except a matter relating to the Mental Treatment Act. There may be a point in what the Leader of the Opposition has raised, and I shall look into it to see if it is necessary to do anything about it.
I should like to hear from the Minister if the wording implies rotation.
I presume the Deputy wants to know whether the word "successively" means rotational. It does not.
I am quite happy to hear that.
I move amendment No. 29:
In page 28, paragraph 4, line 43, to delete "authority" and substitute "board".
This is a drafting amendment. It merely substitutes the word "board" for the word "authority" in line 43.
Does any point arise in paragraph 9 of the Third Schedule which speaks of the transfer of officers of the existing board to the new Authority?
That is to be read with Section 16 in the Bill as printed and Section 17 as the Bill will be presented on Report. We have already dealt with that matter.
Does it provide for compensation on retirement?
There will be no question of retirements but there will be transfers. There is nothing in this Bill, however, which will interfere with the existing power of any appropriate Minister to order the retirement of a person under Section 17 of the 1955 Act. It is not proposed to retire a person in the ordinary way.
There is no question of an officer of an existing board being transferred to the new authority and finding that his emoluments or his status have been changed in any way?
All existing rights, status and emoluments will be preserved.
Third Schedule as amended, agreed to.
I should like to have the next Stage ordered for 24th February on the understanding that, if any further time is needed, I shall not ask the House to take it on that day. I shall have one amendment myself relating to the Dublin Fever Hospital Board. There were one or two points raised which Deputies might like to deal with by way of amendment and if these come in I shall not take the Report Stage next Wednesday.
When will the Minister circulate his amendment?
Before the end of the week but, if that does not give sufficient time, I shall not press it.
Very well. I suggest we fix it provisionally for this day week.