I understand, Sir, but I am only bringing it in order to show that we are now promoting legislation the purpose of which is to get money from the Irish public for this organisation, the controlling body of which will be nominees of the Government who, presumably, will have to do with the collection and expenditure of that money. I think it is relevant in this way: that in such circumstances as now exist, even more than in ordinary circumstances—and in speaking as I am now I only want to give the Government an opportunity of reassuring the country at the present moment as to the position, and we are all very anxious to assist the Government in every possible way—it is necessary for the Government to show that it is giving the country a fair deal and that it is not using the present position, when, as one might say, our lips are closed to discussion, to do things that might not bear discussion.
Now, I have had experience of the starting of organisations, and I can quite understand that anybody who has to do with the starting of an organisation has to get an organising committee, or a committee of a temporary nature, to run that organisation, and that such a person often has to choose the people nearest to him and those whom he knows best. Consequently, I would be completely in agreement, if such a committee were known to be of a temporary nature, but the fact which hits me in the eye is that these new members who have been selected by the Government—apart from those who, as I say, would naturally be on such a committee—are all of the one, and only one, political persuasion. As I have said, I myself have had to do with the starting of such organisations, and I know that it is usual in such cases to get an organising body together that would function for six months or 12 months, as the case might be, in order to get the preliminary work done, and then the organisation that was formed would elect its own controllers. I would be quite happy, therefore, if the Minister would say that these nominees of the Government have been put there for the purpose of getting this thing under way and that then, after six months or 12 months, or whatever may be the necessary period, another method of setting up a controlling body will he brought about. I would suggest, for instance, that, since the Red Cross Society is an organisation notably associated with the medical profession, the correct way would be for the various institutions associated with medicine in this country, on a sort of vocational line, to be invited to nominate their own selections to this body. I should like to have some assurance from the Government on that point, because a number of people outside have remarked to me that the Government, apparently, have selected —apart from those who, as I say, were associated with the St. John Ambulance Brigade and so on—only those doctors who were of a certain political persuasion, and that the only grounds that seem explainable to the public for the selecting of these people were that they were of the one political persuasion.
Now, I have no objection to these people being nominated to such a body. As I have remarked, the names of two of these were associated with the equivalent rank of D.M.S. in the Irregular forces in 1922-23. I have no objection to their being members of this body, no more than I think that there would be any harm in having two people who had held the position of D.M.S. in the Army. As I say, I have no objection to that, or to the fact that doctors might have certain political views supporting the present Government—very far from it, and in fact I think it might be quite desirable to give such nominations to people of a particular political persuasion. As far as I can see, however, this has been a holus-bolus selection of political partisans. Perhaps the Minister will assure us on this matter.
Now, there is another thing to which I should like to refer. The Hospitals Sweep was founded some years ago and it went on merrily and received wonderful support both in this country and in other countries, and as far as I can see the first change in its success, from the upward grade, was when the Minister for Finance—and we have every sympathy with him in his efforts to secure money—looked around for new hen-roosts to raid and imposed a new tax on the Hospitals Sweepstake Trust. That, undoubtedly, brought about at that time a very considerable reaction in England, because it was felt that here we were in this country seeking funds which were nominally to be used for the help of the sick poor, but from which the Government evidently saw a chance of enriching the national Exchequer. Now, in the case of the present sweep, with which we are dealing, we are told that the money subscribed will be made available to the countries associated with the Red Cross, in accordance with the wishes of the subscribers; and that is very good. Mind you, I do not want to close up any avenue of money to the Government at the present time, and I am sure none of us wishes to do so, but it does seem to me that the taking of that money injures the Hospitals Sweepstake. It was not enriching the country.
At the present time it would be an assistance to this Bill if the Minister gave an assurance that the arrangement made by the Government about 1933, or whenever it was, for seizing an amount of this money for the Exchequer would not be pursued in the present case. I am sorry to have to refer to another matter, to the political colour of the nominees of the governing body, because it is a thing which has hit people in the eye for some time. One would not mind if one saw a man from Fianna Fáil, who was a strong partisan if, at the same time, he was a man of great distinction in the medical profession. I saw one name on the list that I recognised as eminently distinguished in the medical profession. As far as the others go, why was A chosen instead of B? The only answer that comes to mind is because he has been a very strong Fianna Fáil supporter. Apart from that, and independent of that, I may say, as far as I am concerned, that I intend to support this Bill, and I understand that on this side it is proposed to facilitate the Minister in getting all stages to-day.