I move amendment No. 5:—
Before Section 6 to insert the following new section:—
6.—Every Order made by the Minister under Sections 10, 14 and 32 of this Act shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the Order or any provision thereof is passed by either such House within the next subsequent 21 days on which that House has sat after the Order is laid before it, the Order or provision thereof (as the case may be) shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
We are on this point about which Senator Sir John Keane is so keen— the distinction between an Order and the regulation. My submission is that any instrument made by the Minister under Section 28 will be a regulation, irrespective of the language in which it is couched, and every instrument made by him under Section 10 will be an Order. There is no such distinction, as I understand the matter, as Senator Sir John Keane tries to make, between a regulation and an Order. The Act under which the instrument is made determines whether that instrument is an Order or a regulation, and Section 10 provides for the making by the Minister of Orders in relation to certain matters. He gives directions by Order. He may direct a health authority to provide and maintain an institution at some specified place, or may order a health authority to provide new or improved drainage or ventilation for an institution. The administrative acts of the Minister under that section will take the form of Orders, and, as such, these instruments will not be tabled in either House and therefore may not be annulled or challenged so far as Parliament is concerned. What a local authority may do in relation to them is another matter, and in fact a local authority, in certain circumstances, might argue that the Minister actedultra vires and might proceed to secure whatever remedies were open to them in law.
We are concerned here with the making of an instrument which has a certain reaction, and, if the Minister makes an order under Section 10, it becomes operative as a mandatory instruction to the local authority regarding the provision of institutions. Under that section, there is conferred on the Minister power to make an Order directing local authorities to provide institutions at a particular place. He may direct a county council to provide a sanatorium, fever hospital or any other kind of institution for the treatment of disease at a specified place. I am very concerned with that, because I think this is an instance in which the local people have a right to be consulted, to have their voices heard, before the Minister makes the Order directing a local authority to do something which he or his advisers consider should be done. One example of the evils which flow from this practice of ignoring a local authority is the unfortunate mishap there was with regard to Santry Court. Here was an instance in which the Minister's predecessor took certain action, depriving the local authority of property on which they intended to erect a certain institution. A very large sum of money was spent on the undertaking and it was then discovered that the whole thing was wrong and the project was abandoned. That, I think, is a clear indication that the local people are likely to know more of local circumstances than the Minister and should at least be consulted. I am anxious, therefore, that any Order made under this section should be tabled and that there should be an opportunity of getting that Order annulled.
I refer to another instance regarding the provision of institutions locally by authority of the Minister, and I call attention to a report which appeared in a Dublin evening paper on the 18th July concerning a building called the Marine Hotel at Wicklow. Apparently the Marine Hotel was disused and the Department of Local Government, or the Department of Health, ordered the county manager to acquire the building for the purpose of converting it into a fever hospital. The county manager told the county council on the 18th of this month that he had intended consulting them at that day's meeting on the matter of the proposed fever hospital, as he had received an estimate from the architect for the work of reconstruction and he was surprised at the amount involved. He said that when the county council took over the Marine Hotel they had thought of expending £1,500. The council knew nothing at all about it; it was the manager who was speaking for himself. He had thought that the cost of reconstruction would be £1,500, but the Department, said the manager, insisted on much greater reconstruction work, including special heating plant, which alone accounted for £5,000, the total estimate being over £11,000. In the opinion of the county engineer, who had reported to the county manager on the plans, he believed the cost would be nearer £15,000 to cover all the work.
Now, here is an arrangement under the existing law by which the Department, over which the Minister presides, instructs the county manager, who is not responsible to any local authority, to acquire a disused hotel for the purpose of converting it into a fever hospital. The manager proceeds with the work on the assumption that it will cost £1,500, but, when he gets an estimate in accordance with the instructions conveyed to him by the Department, the engineer tells him that the cost will be £15,000, ten times more than the manager anticipated the reconstruction would cost.
Here is the snag. The chairman of the county council said he was glad that this had happened because, if they were within their powers, they would give the whole Murrough, where the hotel stands, to a Belgian firm to start an industry there. He said he had been totally opposed to this act of insanity in placing a fever hospital on the sea front of the town. The Minister is claiming power under Section 10 to direct the Wicklow County Council to place a fever hospital on the sea front of the town. I think that is a matter about which this House should have serious concern and, if this is the purpose for which the Minister is seeking the powers mentioned in this Bill, I suggest it is the responsibility of every member of the House to see that before he gets these powers he will be required to place his Orders on the Table of the House so that Senators will have an opportunity of saying: "We dislike what is being done under this Order and we will ask the House to annul it."
The second section to which this amendment is related is Section 14, which provides for the transfer of institutions. Section 10, as we saw, provides for the erection of new institutions of a specified type at a specified place. Section 14 deals with the transfer of existing institutions. These will be transferred by Order. I think the question is not as important as that dealt with under Section 10, but I would draw attention to the fact that there is no inquiry by the Minister before making this transfer Order. I do not think there is any provision in the Bill to ensure that the persons employed in a transferred institution are being protected; to ensure, for instance, that they are entitled to compensation if deprived of their livelihood. It seems to me that this is an instance in which the Order should be tabled, with power of annulment.
I refer in the amendment to Section 32, which seems to be a very important section. It provides exemption from the requirement to submit to measures in relation to protection and immunisation against infectious disease. The provisions of this section are not very clear, but it seems their intention is to get over the safeguards against the compulsory immunisation provided elsewhere in the Bill. In certain circumstances the Minister will have power to direct by Order that adult persons of a particular class—I do not know what he means, whether it is people who have red hair or black skins or some other distinctive marks of that kind—or children of a particular class shall submit themselves to the requirements of Section 32.
I am not objecting to any reasonable measure the Minister considers taking for the protection of the people against the spread of infectious disease. I merely ask him that the Orders made under these sections should be tabled and should be capable of annulment. I think the House will realise that there are reasonable grounds for taking that precaution.
There is a point of difference between the proposal contained in this amendment and the proposals in the traditional section provided for the making of regulations. Senator O'Donovan and myself had some exchange of opinion a few moments ago regarding powers of annulment where regulations are concerned. I contended that if you want to annul any part or set of regulations the whole set must be annulled. Senator O'Donovan thought otherwise. I am providing in this amendment not for the annulment of the Order, except in certain circumstances; I am providing that part of the Order may be annulled and I direct the attention of Senator Sir John Keane particularly to that condition, which is a departure from the traditional form, so that the House might be free to annul one particular section or paragraph of an Order without interfering with the scope or the operation of the remainder of the Order.