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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 25 Oct 1939

Vol. 23 No. 12

Public Business. - Public Hospitals (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 1939—Committee and Final Stages.

Sections 1 to 3 agreed to.

What has the Minister in mind as regards this scheme? I take it that it is analogous to the scheme put up in the case of an ordinary Hospitals Trust Sweep.

That scheme is, I understand, chiefly concerned with the commissions given. A limit is placed on the amount of commissions that can be given. That is, I think, one of the essential features of the scheme which the Minister sanctions. In this case, the Minister takes power to arrange the proportions which can be given to foreign societies and to the Irish Red Cross Society. What is the object of that? Why should the Government intervene at all? Perhaps the society asked him to do so. I notice that the society put up a scheme. Is this whole section the outcome of a demand by the society?

Would not the society prefer to have the proceeds handed over to them to deal with as they wish? Why should the Minister come into the transaction at all? I should like information on that point.

It occurred to me, too, that this procedure was rather strange but I came to the conclusion that it was probably necessary because it is extremely doubtful that a purely Irish society would have power to deal with money in this way unless power was given by a Minister or by the Oireachtas. It seems to me that this provision could not be omitted unless some similar provision were substituted.

I think that Senator Sir John Keane answered his own query a few minutes ago when he spoke about the Red Cross organisation in other countries being sanctioned and recognised by these countries. Surely he would like to see the Red Cross Society here sanctioned and supervised by this country? The Senator answered his point in his previous speech.

This Bill provides for supervision of a scheme, not supervision of the Red Cross Society, as suggested by the Senator.

Not by any means.

Senator O'Donovan has an uncanny knack of always misunderstanding me. All I said was that this society should be freed from all control by the Government in respect of the funds it receives. This society is set up by——

An bhfuil sé in ordú don Seanadóir labhairt arís agus arís ar an Bhille seo?

Do I understand that the Senator is suggesting that I should not speak more than once? We can make a good guess even at what a foreigner is saying. After all, the society has complete power under its rules to give what proportion it likes to other bodies in other countries, so that there is no limitation. It has got a free hand to deal with the funds as it sees fit and surely that is sufficient without bringing the Government into the matter.

The only point is that somebody would have to be able to assure subscribers in foreign countries that the proceeds would be distributed in the way stated by the sweepstake authorities. The Government has to take responsibility to assure subscribers that the money will be distributed as undertaken. It will be for the society to say how much they will retain here, but the present intention is, I understand, to retain 20 per cent. and divide the rest amongst the Red Cross Societies of other countries in proportion to the wishes of the subscribers. The idea as regards Government responsibility is that they should see that the scheme is submitted and that the money is dealt with in accordance with the scheme.

It is State guaranteed.

That is what it amounts to.

Does the Minister mean that the maximum this country would get would be 20 per cent.? I understood that, from the remaining 80 per cent., any subscriber could allocate his share to Ireland.

That is the intention. Twenty per cent. will be kept here and this country can share in the distribution of the remaining 80 per cent.

I did not hear the Minister very clearly when he referred to the percentage of expenses to be taken by the promoters. Would he mind repeating that?

In the Hospitals Trust Act, the percentage of expenses is fixed at 30. In this case, if the expenses exceed that figure, the promoters will have to bear the loss. An Act was brought in this year, in anticipation of the war, to help to indemnify the promoters if a sweep was a complete failure. That Act does not apply to this sweepstake. If the last sweepstake had been a complete failure, the promoters would have been indemnified but that Act cannot be used to indemnify them in respect of sweepstakes under this Act. If there is any loss on these sweepstakes or if the expenses are more than 30 per cent., the promoters must bear the loss themselves.

What is the limit of the expenses they may take under this Act?

If the expenses of a sweepstake exceed 30 per cent., the excess will have to be borne by the promoters.

Section 4 agreed to.
Sections 5 and 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Question proposed: "That Section 7 stand part of the Bill."

I had not an opportunity of referring to the Acts mentioned in this section, but am I to understand that the Government is taking its percentage in this sweep as usual?

The Government has not considered whether it might not make that contribution to this worthy cause?

The Government has to get the money off the people even if they made a contribution. They must get it somewhere, as the Senator should be well aware.

Have the Government not already made a contribution?

All we need now is members.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 8, 9 and the Title ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Question proposed: "That the Bill be received for final consideration."

There is one point which I desire to raise, arising out of Sections 2 and 3 of the Bill. Possibly I should have raised it when these sections were going through Committee, but it is a small point. Sections 2 says that the expression "the present European war" means the armed conflict which, at the passing of this Act, is being waged between certain European Powers. Section 3 goes on to give the society power to promote a sweepstake during the continuance of the present European war. If an Asiatic Power should come into the war, will that preclude the society from organising a sweepstake?

No, the European war will be going on all the time.

We say that they shall have power during the continuance of the present European war to hold a sweepstake.

Surely, the present European war will still continue even should an American or Asiatic Power come in?

But we define the present European war as the armed conflict which is being waged between certain European Powers.

If there is any question as to the legality of organising another sweep, I suggest that we shall have to wait and see what the circumstances are. If there is any doubt then as to the legality of a proposed sweep we shall have to bring in another Bill.

If the Minister is satisfied, I am.

Question put and agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.