I move amendment 3:
Section 3, sub-section (1). After the word "Minister" in line 35 to insert the words "shall lay on the Table of each House of the Oireachtas a copy of such scheme and."
This amendment requires the Minister to lay on the Table of the Oireachtas a copy of the scheme which he has sanctioned. It may be recalled that the Principal Act sets forth that a hospital committee which desires to promote a sweepstake "shall prepare and submit to the Minister a scheme specifying in relation to such sweepstake the following matters, that is to say:—(a) the name or names of the hospital or hospitals the governing body or bodies of which desire to hold such sweepstakes..., and (b) the names of the members of such committee, and (c) particulars of the prizes intended to be distributed, including the money value of any prize which is not a sum of money, and (d) the number of drawings of prizes intended to be made in such sweepstake..., (e) the price intended to be charged for tickets in such sweepstakes, and (f) the amount or the maximum amount proposed to be allowed or expended by way of commission, prize, or other remuneration in relation to the sale of tickets in such sweepstakes, and the proportion of free tickets proposed to be allotted by way of reward to the seller of any particular number of tickets in such sweepstake." Then there are various other provisions. It is important that the terms of the scheme which the Minister sanctions under the Act should be made public, because the sweepstake system has at least a quasi-official backing. The sweepstakes are specially authorised by Acts of Parliament. Certain obligations are imposed upon the committees. The scheme has to be sanctioned by the Minister, and audited accounts have to be published. One generally assumes that all things are done in accordance with the scheme sanctioned by the Minister. My proposition is based upon the idea that it is useless to try to assure the public or give it the confidence which is necessary unless the scheme which the Minister has sanctioned has, at some time or other, been made public. We have had from time to time news items published in the papers indicating what purported to be the prize scheme, but in no case was that scheme the scheme sanctioned by the Minister.
You get a general idea of the names of the hospitals, their number, the proportion of the prizes and matters of that kind. It seems to me to be an essential feature of this whole scheme that the scheme approved of by the Minister should be made public. I lay emphasis on paragraphs (e) and (f), which I have read, with regard to the prices charged for tickets in such sweepstakes: the amount proposed to be allowed or expended by way of commission, prize or other remuneration in relation to the sale of tickets in such sweepstakes, the proportion of free tickets proposed to be allotted by way of reward to the seller of any particular number of tickets in such sweepstake. I refer more especially to the proportion of free tickets proposed to be allotted by way of reward to the seller. The auditors' reports with regard to two sweeps have been circulated. They give us a certain amount of information and, no doubt, are entirely in order according to the Principal Act, which provides in one of its sections that when calculating the amount of moneys received from the sale of tickets in a sweepstake the value of tickets issued free by way of reward to a seller of tickets is not to be taken into account.
In discussing some of the sweepstakes and statements of accounts issued I was faced with criticism of this kind: that too much money was paid by way of commission for the sale of tickets or by way of free tickets. I pointed out to the critics that the matter was secured by the provisions of the Act, by the scheme sanctioned by the Minister and by the assurances that were given to the House when discussing the Bill a year ago. It will be remembered perhaps that Senator O'Doherty put forward an amendment to provide that no tickets should be issued free except by way of reward to the seller and that tickets so issued were not to represent more than five per cent. of the money received. That amendment was discussed fairly freely. The suggestion was made that the scheme was not water-tight, that it would allow, if anybody were so inclined, to be distributed a considerable number of tickets which would not be covered by any return that might be made by the auditors. It would not be covered by the amount of the proceeds of the sale of tickets. Those who were speaking on behalf of the Bill gave most positive assurances then that such a thing could not possibly enter the heads of the promoters or the Hospitals Committee. I note the point was made by one Senator to the effect that the matter was quite secure under the provisions of the Bill.
Senator Comyn, in making the case that there was no safeguard as to the amount and the number of free tickets that might possibly be issued under the Bill, said, "I always understood there was one free ticket in every book of twenty." Senator Hooper responded, "For every one in ten, I think." Later the Cathaoirleach drew attention to the matter in these words. "Senator Comyn says there is no limitation to the number of tickets a man can issue free, thereby taking from the chances of the bona fide purchased tickets.” Senator Hooper, in supporting the Bill, replied, “This scheme will have to go before the Minister, so that the promoter will not be free to insert an absurd condition of that kind in the scheme. If he does the Minister will strike it out, and the scheme will fall to the ground unless the Minister sanctions such a proposal.” Again, the Cathaoirleach pointed out, “I would be inclined to think that every block of tickets that went out would be accounted for by the Committee,” and to that Senator Hooper responded, “There is to be an accountant for this scheme. Surely an accountant of standing, approved of by the Minister, is not going to allow a swindle of that kind to be carried out.” Senator Farren, who, in the absence of Senator Bigger through illness, had undertaken to pilot the Bill through the House, gave similar assurances. They were perfectly honest and sincere, and I think we could rely upon them. I took it that the assurances that were given by Senators who were backing the Bill were reliable and had been carried out. Senator Jameson put this question, “Am I to take it from Senator Farren that his case is that no free tickets are to be issued except the usual free tickets that are given as remuneration for the sale of a book of tickets,” and to that Senator Farren replied “Yes.”
That being the case I relied upon that in answer to my critics, and pointed out that it was common knowledge, although not stated in any scheme that had been made public, that the seller of every ten tickets got two others by way of remuneration: that in fact the figures given in the cash returns circulated of the proceeds of the sale of tickets indicated the amounts which came to the coffers of the Hospitals Committee, and that all you had to do was to add one-fifth to the amount to arrive at the sum which the public subscribed for tickets. In the case of the Grand National Sweep the public subscribed, say, two million pounds. There was deducted from that by way of commission to the sellers of tickets two tickets out of every twelve, and the balance, £1,672,000 went into the coffers of the Hospitals Committee. I take that to be the position in respect to this scheme, as defined by the Act and substantiated by the assurance given in this House when the Principal Act was going through. But I think it is important, having regard to those facts, that at least we should know, when sanction is given to a scheme, the figure that has been approved of by the Minister as to the maximum amount proposed to be allowed by way of commission, prizes, or for remuneration for the sale of tickets, and the proportion of free tickets proposed to be allotted by way of reward to the seller. I submit that portion of the scheme should be made known, and I think I am justified in assuming that the maximum proportion allowed under the scheme is two tickets added to every ten. That is to say, two tickets out of every twelve is the proportion allowed by the Minister's sanction to be awarded for the sale of tickets. As that is common knowledge it seems to me a very important thing that we should dissipate all doubts and queries to the contrary effect.
Somebody pointed out that there is a machine required for the distribution of tickets. Undoubtedly. I was asked how was that machine to be worked and how were the men to be paid—I mean wholesale distributors, as one may call them if one speaks in trade terms. Obviously, the answer is that they are paid out of the £42,000 which is the payment to the Hospitals Trust, Limited, for promoting sweepstakes. The sum of £46,000 was paid in respect of the Manchester November Handicap, and I think it is obvious that the administration and distribution expenses in connection with the work of the Hospitals Trust, as distinct from the work of the Committee, will come out of the remuneration paid to the Hospitals Trust. To remove all possible cause of suspicion we should have clearly made public the terms of the sanction given by the Minister. Having that, we can trust the Hospitals Committee, composed of representative and honourable men, to guarantee that there is no departure from the scheme as outlined by the Minister. If we have those assurances, then I think you will have a complete return of confidence and that you will at once dissipate the various doubts and queries that have been set abroad.