Meath Hospital Bill, 1950—Second Stage.

Question Proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This is a Private Members' Bill from the Dáil—I think it is the first we have had since the reconstitution of this House in 1938. It deals with a Dublin Hospital, the Meath Hospital, which is, in fact, a national institution situated in Dublin. It has been in existence for just 100 years and during that century has had a very honourable and distinguished record of service as a hospital to patients and to the poor. It is interesting to point out about the Bill—before coming to its actual terms—that, on its introduction into the other House, it was backed by four members of the Dáil of three different Parties. Each one of three of them had been, in fact, Lord Mayor of Dublin. One belonged to the Labour Party, one to the Fine Gael Party and one to the Fianna Fáil Party. It passed its Second Stage unanimously in the other House and went to a Select Committee consisting in the great majority of the members of the House who sit either for Dublin City or Dublin Country. The chairman of the Select Committee was a former Lord Mayor of Dublin drawn from the Opposition.

The committee went into the Bill with great thoroughness and very harmoniously without a division, and made very considerable amendments to the Bill. The Bill, therefore, in principle, was entirely acceptable to the House and was passed unanimously. As was well said in the other House, it is a Bill which provides a suitable and acceptable type of machinery for the government of the hospital in the best interests of the patients. It is sometimes forgotten, Sir, in discussing schools, that schools are for pupils, and it is also sometimes forgotten in discussing hospitals that hospitals are for patients. So far as this Bill is concerned, we do not need to deal with any recent events or pass judgement on them in so far as they concern the Meath Hospital or its committees, past or present. We are concerned, just as the other House was concerned, with the problem of how the hospital ought to be governed. The government of the hospital will consist of five members selected by the Dublin County Council, six selected by the Dublin Corporation, two by the General Council of County Councils, four by the medical board of the hospital, four by subscribers to the hospital with two co-options. There is obviously a clear need for a constitution for the hospital. It is also clear that the hospital government must be carried on in harmony with the medical staff. The Bill provides for that. When the Bill has got a Second Reading, I would like to suggest to the House that the Committee Stage should be taken next week so that Senators would have an opportunity of making suggestions with regard to details. The principle of the Bill that it should be governed by a committee representative of county councils, medical board, subscribers, etc., is a sound one. I, therefore, ask that the Bill be read a Second Time.

I thoroughly agree with the proposal put forward by Senator Hayes. I consider that this is not an opportune time to go back and examine what has happened in connection with the Meath Hospital in the past. Now that steps have been taken to get a representative committee representing the county councils, the subscribers and the medical profession, we hope that it will meet with every success. I agree that the best thing to do is to take the Committee Stage next week when the Senators interested will have an opportunity of going into the details of each section.

I do not agree with Senators Hayes or Hawkins that we should simply take the Bill as it is given to us and deal with it on the Committee Stage next week. I read the statements that were made in the Dáil and was surprised at the ignorance that was displayed by the people who sponsored the Bill and the people who spoke to the Bill either for or against it. There was a Bill introduced in March, 1950, to set up a new government for the Meath Hospital. That Bill was introduced not because the people who introduced it, in my belief, wanted to set up a new government, but as a result of certain happenings that had taken place prior to that. If it is desired to deal with the Bill as it should be dealt with, we have got to take into consideration what happened in 1949. A new committee was elected to the Meath Hospital, elected quite legally and according to the provisions of the charter. It has been referred to in the other House as a coup. I personally see nothing fundamentally wrong with a coup. If it comes off, everything is all right, but, when it fails, it is another matter altogether. There were immediately certain resignations from the board, and, from that time on, there was a definite hostility on the part of the medical people towards the new board and that is the reason why I, personally, welcome this Bill. It achieves what the people, myself included, who went on that board in 1949 set out to achieve. That hospital is the County Dublin Infirmary and it is nearer 200 years established than the 100 years mentioned by Senator Hayes, having been established in 1763.

That is correct—200 years.

I was amazed by the Senator's statement, because, after listening to all the blunders and misstatements made in the other House, I had hoped that we would get away from them here. We were talking some time ago about £3,000,000 and £4,000,000, and I intervened to ask, what was £1,000,000 between friends. The same would apply to the 100 years mentioned by Senator Hayes as against 200 years. Shortly after these resignations, an action was instituted in the High Court claiming that the new committee had no status and should be abolished. One of the plaintiffs—I do not want to say this, but I have to say it—was the ex-President of the Executive Council and I feel I am correct in saying that he was the instigator of this Bill, because it took a master hand to produce it. He is a man for whom I had and still have the greatest regard and I believe he was the power behind the throne, if you like, in the introduction of this Bill.

Nobody in the other House said one good word about the present committee. I am not a member of it now and I can speak freely, and I want to say that no committee worked harder for the past two years in the interests of that hospital than the present committee, and it would be unfair and unjust if I did not pay a tribute to the chairman of that committee for the work he has put in to carry the hospital through, in spite of the opposition of the medical staff. For two years we worked there, sometimes two and three times a week, and not one good word has been said for the work these men put in. All of them are business men and they did not go in there for the benefit of their health. They went in to do something which they believed should be done. I was asked to go on that board and I inquired why I should. I was told that a graduate of the National University could not get a job in that hospital. I inquired and found that the position was that practically all the doctors there were graduates of Trinity College. I must say this, too, of the resident medical staff, that, of the eight, seven of them were non-Catholics and the eighth a Catholic Trinity College doctor, an outstanding doctor, a doctor with credentials and abilities which would make him an asset to any hospital in the entire world. I believe—I do not know if it is true—that that man had to establish his position by sheer ability.

That was the position we found, and, although, in the Irish Times on Saturday last, it was stated that there was no bar against National University men, the fact remains, that they did not get in there. Until this Bill came along, the position was that there was a little coterie of doctors who appointed the doctors and naturally appointed their own friends and relatives. There are cases in the history of the hospital of positions going from father to son over the years. I am not saying a word against the ability of these doctors. I am prepared to admit that they all worked as they should work, in the interests of the sick patients, but I am putting the position forward to justify the action of the men who sought to cure it. I had to sit in a boardroom there with an almost full-length picture of the Famine Queen smiling benignly down on us while we deliberated on the affairs of the hospital. We changed that, and there is a crucifix there now. That will give an idea of the atmosphere we found there. As I say, nobody has said one good word—I want to say that word now—for the men from whom I have parted, not on fundamentals but on methods of procedure.

When this Select Committee was set up, it was an all-Party committee, but I do not see why we should be asked to feel that, because there Lords Mayor of Dublin were on the committee, it was a committee in excelsis. While not saying a word about these three men, Senator Hayes will agree that we had some queer characters as Lords Mayor of this city. This committee had power to find out the position, but seemingly it had no intention of doing so, because in its report we read:—

"The Select Committee, at its first meeting, considered its terms of reference and decided not to avail of its power to send for persons, papers and records, but to consider any representations in writing made to it.

At its subsequent meeting, the Select Committee went through the Bill and made amendments thereto. The Bill, as amended, is reported to the Dáil."

"Consider any representations in writing made to it." Members of the board have been accused of lobbying in the precincts of the House and holy horror was expressed at the idea of men meeting members of the committee and asking them to do this or that. What other course had the members of the board? They did not know when the committee was meeting or if it would meet at all. They were not asked to submit any representations and were left completely outside. I, on two occasions, came into this House and did a bit of lobbying— except that it happened to be in the restaurant. I asked two separate members of this committee if they would like some members of the Meath Hospital Board to give evidence and I was told that that was altogether out of order, that only members of the Dáil could debate this Bill or meet to discuss it, which, according to what I understand now, was not correct. The committee were empowered, if they saw fit, to send for members of the joint committee and inquire what the position was. It has been asked—I think it is right that they should know—why they went in there to bring off this coup. They also decided in their wisdom that the debates of the committee should not be officially reported. I suppose they were entitled to do that but it leaves us in a very strange position. We do not know what reasons influenced the members of the committee to make some of the decisions they made.

As Senator Hayes has said, this Bill does not now look like the Bill introduced in March, 1950. That Bill had many penal clauses and not all the penal clauses are removed. There is one such clause still in it to which I have very strong objection, but it certainly was not a Bill which had, to say the least of it, a democratic flavour. The Bill as introduced in the Dáil has been considerably improved as submitted to us to-day.

In the Bill as introduced it was suggested the present joint committee should hold office until the appointed day. One particular Deputy thought in his wisdom and possibly with some hostility and venom towards the joint committee that there should be a change and that the members holding office immediately before the appointed day should cease to hold office on the day on which this Bill becomes law, and that in the meantime the city manager is to take control of the hospital and to manage its affairs until such time as a new committee is elected.

Let me say that I welcome the newest set-up in the Bill. It is democratic, and there is only one feature in which I think there could be a change. I am a member of the Dublin Corporation and I know how busy members of local bodies can be, and the question arises as to whether local representatives are as attentive to business as they should be. I suppose they are as attentive as they can be, but it is not always easy for local representatives to attend at all times. Rather than having these co-options provided for as they are I think it would be better if they were given to representatives of local bodies so that we could ensure that the control would be complete at all times even allowing for the occasions on which people would not be able to turn up.

Under the old terms the doctors were appointed by themselves, but now they will be appointed by the committee after consideration by the medical people who are best qualified to judge the merits of medical men. The satisfactory thing is that the joint board will have the appointment of doctors.

The debating question in the Dáil was on Section 12 dealing with the appointments of four doctors.

That is Section 14 now.

Yes, Section 14 now. Personally, I think that clause is objectionable and I am not sure that it is not unconstitutional for any Government or Parliament to make laws depriving men of their employment. At any rate, I want to correct a statement made by the chairman of the Select Committee and by a representative of the county council on the Meath Hospital Board to the effect that four doctors were dismissed on the 31st January. I want to say that that is entirely untrue and incorrect. Nobody was dismissed from the employment of the hospital. I think that that statement was a most outrageous statement to make and I would go so far as to say that I believe it influenced the voting in the Dáil on that particular section. After all, I believe Irish people always have sympathy for the bottom dog, and for the fellow who loses his job rather than for the fellow in a job. In the case of these four men, there was no dismissal and, so far as I can recollect, nobody was dismissed from the Meath Hospital since we went into control there. During the course of a discussion in the restaurant, one of the members of the Select Committee alleged to me that a girl had been dismissed from her job in the hospital. I said that I did not think so, and I eventually inquired into the matter. I discovered that the grievance was that the girl was sick and, because we had not appointed another to take her place while she was sick, the story went out that she had been sacked and it grew to the point where it was stated that she was dismissed by the joint committee.

As I have stated, there were no dismissals. The only dismissal I know of, if it could be called a dismissal, was that there was a secretary there on a part-time basis. When we saw the amount of work involved in the hospital, we realised that it required a whole-time appointment. We offered the appointment to this particular individual at a salary of £850 per year to do the job, but he would not accept it. We had no alternative, therefore, but to let him go. That was not a dismissal but a refusal by a man to take a position offered to him. I think, in the circumstances, it is outrageous for anyone to say that there had been dismissals, but that was bound to happen because the Select Committee got all its information from one side. It never attempted to get any information from those comprising the joint committee.

I resigned from the joint committee because I believed it was a mistake on their part to make these appointments. I resigned purely on a fundamental principle and not for any other reason and because I could see in regard to these appointments what was going to happen and what did happen in the Dáil.

I want to say in regard to the joint committee that everything done by it since it took over has been for the advancement of the hospital. We are building a new nurses' home which is costing over £100,000 and which will be adequate to accommodate all the nurses in the institution. We expect it to be ready for occupation in the autumn and that will leave a considerable space in the hospital which can be used for the provision of extra beds and that may have justified the appointment of more doctors in the hospital.

There are changes that ought to be made in this Bill and should be made.

I think that, generally speaking, everybody is in agreement as far as the principle of this Bill is concerned. I think it was unfortunate that many of the speeches made in the Dáil were actually made. As an ordinary observer and as one who has read the debates in the Dáil, I feel rather inclined to think that were it not for the extraordinary coincidence that four Corkmen were appointed to the positions concerned in what is now Section 14 of the Bill many of the speeches would not have been made at all. I have nothing against Corkmen as such; in fact, I have the greatest admiration in the world for them, but I think it was carrying the thing to extremes to suggest that any sane responsible members of the Dáil would take a certain line in a debate just because four Corkmen happened by pure coincidence to be appointed.

I think that as a result of this Bill we will have better and more efficient running of the Meath Hospital. I do not think at this stage it is wise to go back into the realms of history, so far as this hospital is concerned. We might disagree violently on how it was run, the influences which operated in the hospital, but one thing we cannot get away from is that over a very long period the hospital has served a useful purpose and the needs of the poor have been attended to there over that time.

We have heard a lot of discussion as to lobbying and canvassing. I cannot quite see the difference between the two. Senator Colgan told us he was not lobbied in the lobby, that the lobbying took place in the restaurant. I suppose it is just as well it is Lent, giving an excuse for not having the lobbying in the bar.

That is hardly fair to Senator Colgan, who is a Pioneer.

It is really amazing that so much canvassing has been going on and the statements made in connection with this Bill are really astonishing. I was told, on what I would regard as reliable authority, that the opposition to this Bill was really from the Masonic Order. I was also told that the people behind the Bill, and responsible for bringing it in, were the Masons. I was also told by people whom you would regard as ordinary sensible people that the Knights of Columbanus were for and against the Bill. I have no time for either the Knights of Columbanus or the Masonic Order, and I make no bonus about saying in public that I think neither of them necessary in this country, that we can get along grand without them. Ridiculous statements have been made. Of course, there was lobbying going on. There were people who got up, obviously not knowing anything more about this Bill than the man in the moon, trying to convince people they were not canvassed. If a lot of us were not canvassed, we would know very little about what was going on.

I went to the trouble of reading the debates in the Dáil and I find it very hard to understand the line taken by many people there. I think it should go out from this House that we very sincerely compliment the men who sat on the Committee on this Bill. It is an advance in this country to find that we can produce men of several different Parties who worked like slaves to produce this Bill in its present form; and, having produced it, they were able to come to the House and have the pleasure of seeing the Second Reading passed in the Dáil unanimously, practically with acclamation. It was only when that happened that the tempters started to enter the scene. Despite all the criticism and all the opposition, underhand and above board, I think I am right in saying that, at this stage, the only real bone of contention is Section 14, which was originally Section 12.

It is an unusual experience to find that in this House you can be in violent disagreement with your best friends and in wholehearted agreement with your political enemies. I have heard statements made in the other House by Deputy McCann that certain people were not dismissed. I have the greatest respect for Deputy McCann and his words. He said they were not dismissed, while other speakers said they were, so it is very hard for anyone to know the truth. Under Section 14, which some people say is a terrible section and which I have heard described as a penal clause, power is being given to the governing body to dismiss certain people who were appointed. It has been argued that, assuming that a regularly-elected, democratic body is in control, such power would not be exercised, provided that the men are suitable and not redundant. I am inclined to that view myself and I am not prepared to accept the suggestion that, because this power is being given to the governing body, these men must necessarily be dismissed. I do not accept that because those people have the power, they will use it. We have given power to Ministers time and again to do certain things if they found it necessary and in all such cases we had to assume that the Minister would not use the power, as we assume that any Minister would be a reasonable man. We made a couple of mistakes —we made one, anyhow. We must only hope that the people elected under this Bill will be the proper people to control this hospital, and, assuming that that is the case, we must assume that they will be very careful in the exercise of such power as may be given to them.

A suggestion was made here that a still further improvement may be made in the Bill, by providing that the filling of positions would be left to the Appointments Commissioners. I do not propose to introduce an amendment along those lines, but I think there is something to be said for that argument. Of course, we have people who will suggest, and who have suggested in the past, that even if the Appointments Commissioners have the filling of certain vacancies the commissioners can be got at. I would like to say here and now that I have been told that several times. People have actually written to me asking me to help in getting such and such a job and I have always written back and said nothing can be done. It is time that we should be unanimous here on that point, that no one can interfere with the Appointments Commissioners in the filling of any vacancy. I know that, human nature being what it is, certain people, even members of the Oireachtas, will pretend they can do something; but nothing can be done and it is just as well that the people should know that. I am not altogether 100 per cent. sold on this idea but, generally speaking, I believe that when this Bill has passed all its stages, this hospital will, as a result, run more smoothly and will continue for many years to serve the people as it should serve them.

I endorse every word that has been said by Senator Quirke. This hospital has given great and valuable service to the citizens of Dublin and those outside Dublin. I expect that on the next stage some discussion will take place about Section 14. I am supporting the Bill, including Section 14. I do not know whether Senator Quirke agrees wholly with that section or not, but when the time comes I propose to say something on it.

As a result or as a corollary to a lot of correspondence published from time to time in the Irish Times and having read the debates in Dáil Eireann, I sought and got certain information, information not vouchsafed to me before, which strengthened me in my own conviction that this Bill was most opportune and one that this House should pass in all its moods and tenses. Section by section I will endorse it, if it is put to a vote here.

Being a country member of the House and having had none of the contacts which seem to have been available to others, having had no one coming lobbying to me or informing me, I wish to put one or two questions and to state my own point of view in so far as the running of this hospital has any relationship to the kind of experience people like myself have had with regard to their own health services. I think that Senator Colgan called this "The Dublin Infirmary". Looking through the Bill, what puzzles me is why the government of this hospital is not put absolutely under the local health authority in Dublin. There are local health authorities in all counties. I do not know enough about this aspect, and bow to the experience of those who can enlighten me, but, quite frankly, I find it difficult to appreciate a position where the medical board joins with others to form the government of that hospital and, at the same time, are, to a certain extent, the employees of that authority. Somebody behind me says: "Not at all", but I want enlightenment and that is how it strikes me. Surely some of these medical men are earning fees in this hospital and, in so far as they do, they are their own servants and their own governors. That point, in my view, requires elucidation.

I do not know what other members of the House may think, but I thoroughly dislike the proposition in Section 10 whereby a number of people can qualify to vote to decide who shall be their representatives on the governing body. That is all wrong and it is a very strange position. You have a local health district and ratepayers represented on Dublin Corporation, Dublin County Council or on the General Council of County Councils and within that circle you appear to leave it open to other groups to pay subscriptions and by virtue of that fact to have their right proclaimed to have some say in the government of this institution. I do not know what its purpose is and my feeling is that when the archaic system of government of this magnificent institution with its fine record of service to the community over the centuries was being altered and when an attempt was made to bring it up to date the effort should have been completed. I do not know who would be offended by the elimination of the right which was enjoyed by a very limited number of people and which was then claimed by a larger number of people. Let me put a possibility with regard to these subscribers —because that is what they amount to: two guineas are, I think, the amount which qualifies a person to be a governor and by the payment of £100 50 people may vote and one person may pay the subscriptions, collect 50 votes and mark the 50 voting papers. It is a postal vote, remember. If each voter came in in the same way as the people who elect us and put one paper in the ballot box in the hospital on a particular day in the presence of a returning officer then you could claim that it was legitimate. That section has dangers inherent in it which are well worth examination.

Section 14 strikes me in the same way as it strikes Senators Quirke and Colgan. I do not imagine that the decisions which have been made up to the present are likely to be altered, but these decisions were either right or wrong. The inclusion of that section seems to me a declaration on the part of the Oireachtas that the existing committee, which apparently got its position by employing the same methods as its predecessor, had not the rights which its predecessor enjoyed. For that reason, this section should not be in the Bill, and its removal would contribute to the restoration of peace. Probably somebody more interested than I will move an amendment to eliminate it.

Generally speaking, I cannot understand why this hospital cannot be run in the same way as hospitals under other health authorities, by the representatives of the people in the health district, and I should like someone to elucidate that point. While there may be no necessity, from the Dublin point of view, to have a government as democratically selected as that and there may be something to be said for the rather privileged position which is still being maintained by the Bill—as one must accept that those Dublin representatives who have discussed the Bill have done their best to achieve their end—the Bill is now before us and we have our own responsibility to comment upon it.

I feel that this Bill is a very honest measure and one which will, I think, prove very effective to carry out the reforms which any of us would desire and which are not only desirable but urgent in that fine old institution, the Meath Hospital. I would like, on the Committee Stage possibly, to introduce an amendment, but that amendment, I think, would not come from me as representing the National University of Ireland but rather from my life-long association with the life and work of the Dublin hospitals and the Dublin hospitallers.

Section 14, in particular, has been referred to. When I read it the first time I regarded it as possibly a form of protective legal phraseology, but on further consideration I thought that there was a principle involved to which the members of the medical profession might object. In order to inform Senator Baxter and the House generally of the exact status of medical officers on the medical board of the Dublin hospitals, it will be necessary to go back a long way into the most interesting and glorious phase of civilisation in Western Europe. Few things are more interesting than the gradual growth of the Dublin hospitals. At the moment, they are all on a different basis. In the Dublin hospitals the medical staffs do at least 75 per cent. of the work for the needy without charge. Their livelihood is made up by outside work. In the gradual growth of some of the hospitals, private rooms and semi-private cubicles were provided, and the members of the medical board are entitled to charge fees for their services to patients occupying these private rooms or semi-private cubicles. All the hospitals are different. If Senator Baxter asks why the Meath Hospital should not be completely under the local authority I should like him to remember that the Meath Hospital started as a voluntary institution, doing noble work in this city for many centuries. During its development it fastened on to itself at one stage the functions and title of County Dublin Infirmary. The two functions have been side by side eversince. The position is complicated, but then the position is complicated in practically every hospital in Dublin. I think that this Bill is an honest effort to create reforms, particularly in this great institution, the Meath Hospital, and, as such, I welcome the Bill.

Senator Barniville has mentioned private wards and lest, perhaps, there might be some misunderstanding I should like to say a few words about them. A lot has been said recently about the wealthy doctors in Merrion Square, in Fitzwilliam Square and in the crescents. Since I became associated with medicine I have known a good many men in the crescents and squares and I can say that very few of them have died wealthy. If any have died wealthy I should think that it was not from what they made in their profession. I worked in a Dublin hospital for eight years. My salary was £6 6s. 0d. a month. I gave more in charity to the patients coming into that hospital than I got as a salary. I think that the same can be said of a great number of doctors associated with the hospitals in Dublin. Now I want to say a few words about semi-private wards. Provision is made for the poor and for the rich but no provision is made for the man who wants to pay his way and be independent of the doctor and of the hospital. He wants to pay what he can afford and that is where the semi-private ward comes in. He pays a small fee to the doctor and to the hospital. I think that such a man deserves great respect and great consideration. He is not considered in the modern proposals that are before us. He is made a pauper, dependent on the State, when he wants to be independent and to pay his way. The type of patient you meet in the semi-private ward deserves greater admiration than the man who pays big fees in the private hospitals and I think that he should not be neglected.

I do not intend to delay the house now, as I shall have more to say in regard to this Bill next week. I merely rise, following Senator Barniville, who claims that he is speaking in this debate for the representatives of the National University. In that capacity, too, I rise to say that next week, when amendments are being discussed, I hope to join with Senator Barniville on an amendment in respect of Section 14. It seems to me that university graduates—and not the graduates of any university in particular—are being subjected to a certain amount of risk and hardship by the provisions of that section. As a university representative I shall attempt to do something on the Committee Stage to protect university graduates from the possible consequences of the section in question.

Would Senator Hayes, who introduced this Bill, consider the insertion of an amendment or the acceptance of an amendment from me—I should prefer that he would do it himself—to the effect that the municipal body be included as a nominating body in respect of the Meath Hospital Board? I think it should be the unanimous wish of the House that Senator Hayes, who is piloting this Bill through the House, should include the municipal body as a nominating body.

Senator Colgan fairly caught me out and I apologise. I said that this hospital was 100 years in existence although I had in front of me the date 1753. I should have said two centuries. It shows, I suppose, that higher education is sometimes not quite sufficient. I come now to deal with the other matters which have been raised. I am in the position that nobody canvassed me at all, good, bad or indifferent on this matter, so Senator Colgan and Senator Quirke and other people are regarded, apparently, in a different light from myself: whether it is for better or for worse I am not prepared to say. Senator Baxter said that this Bill leaves the Meath Hospital in a privileged position. That is not so. Certainly there is no privilege for the Meath Hospital in this Bill. If Senators will look at the names of the Select Committee of Dáil Eireann that considered this Bill—the 15 members, and composed as they were composed—it is very extraordinary that one should think that they would sit down and provide privileges for anybody. If Senator Baxter will consider the matter he will find that the word "privilege" is inappropriate in regard to this Bill.

I sympathise with Senator Colgan's position. I understand quite well that, having taken the stand which he took, he would like to pay a tribute to the existing committee. I do not grudge him that. I do not intend either to praise or to blame the existing committee or anybody else. I am in agreement with Senator Quirke and Senator Hawkins that we should not discuss these matters. Ours is not a body which can establish anything about a particular set of facts. It is not within our capacity to determine who was right and who was wrong in a particular set of facts. Indeed, about these facts themselves, there is considerable dispute. I suggest to Senator Colgan that it was a misuse of his privilege and a very unfair thing for him to take a particular individual of great distinction in this State, not now a member of either House of the Oireachtas, and to say that he was responsible for this Bill.

I did not say that. I said that I believed he was responsible.

Senator Colgan says, under the privilege of this House, that he believes that a well-known ex-President of the Executive Council was responsible for this Bill and was behind it. That is a very unfair thing to say, although there is nothing dishonourable about this Bill or the association of any citizen of the State with it.

Where is it unfair?

Mr. Hayes

It is very unfair to say that four members of the Dáil who introduced this Bill—Deputy Martin O'Sullivan, of the Labour Party, who was a Lord Mayor of Dublin; Deputy Peadar Doyle, who is a very well-known citizen of Dublin and was also a Lord Mayor; Deputy Michael O'Higgins and Deputy John McCann, another former Lord Mayor of Dublin, who could be accurately and correctly described as an opponent of the ex-President of the Executive Council—are people who cannot stand on their own feet, but have to rely on the instigation of some people outside. I think that is a statement which is not consistent with the probabilities, or, indeed, with the facts.

I do not think Senator Hayes was right in saying that I was abusing the privileges of this House in what I said.

Mr. Hayes

Under the privileges of this House, a Senator gets up and says this Bill was instigated by a person outside the House. He happens to be a close and intimate friend of mine. I am proud to say he was my leader for many years. I do not think his name should be introduced into this debate to-day, with which he is not concerned. There is no evidence of that. The evidence is all to the contrary. The evidence is surely that these people of experience are all capable of standing on their own feet and making up their own minds, as they gave every evidence, by speaking their own minds in the other House. It is very unfair to them and very unfair to the ex-President of the Executive Council that we should be told about them that they acted under his direction or instigation, whatever the phrase may be. Perhaps we can let that pass.

With regard to some other points, I purposely did not discuss Section 14 because I think it is a matter which we can easily discuss in Committee. It certainly does not deprive anybody of employment. It is a permissive section, and I am sure when Senator Barniville, or any other Senator, puts down his amendment, we can get the matter discussed and put it in its proper perspective. I certainly feel that the matter is one which can be discussed and that we could possibly come to an agreement on an amendment.

With regard to Senator. Baxter's suggestion that the simplest way to deal with the Meath Hospital was to put it in the position of a county home or county infirmary and put it under a local body, the hospitals in Dublin all have an interesting, complicated and, as he said, very honourable history. It should be our aim, I think, when we make reforms, to make reforms in the light of history, and to preserve the very best we can of what history has bequeathed to us. This Bill is a very fair effort to do that. I often digress to talk on the functions of Parliament. This Bill as it now appears is a very great tribute to the other House and the way it can deal with its business when it sets its mind to it. It has preserved in this Bill authority for the Dublin Corporation and Dublin County Council and, at the same time, it has preserved the rights of the medical board and the subscribers who have been there for a long time and who deserve a voice in the whole business.

There is one other point. Senator Colgan talks about difficulties of members of the corporation in attending meetings. With regard to the members of the Dublin Corporation and Dublin County Council, Section 5 provides:—

"The Dublin County Council shall in the first election year on or before the appointed day elect five persons to act as county members."

They are not necessarily to be five of their own members. They can elect anybody. The same thing applies to the Dublin Corporation "who shall elect six persons." In the case of the General Council of County Councils, it "shall elect two of its members." That is a different thing. The same thing applies to the medical board, which "shall elect two of its members." The Dublin Corporation and the Dublin County Council can, in their own discretion, appoint representatives either from among their own members or from other persons outside, that is, not being members.

Senator Fitzsimons suggests that municipal bodies should have representation the same as the General Council of County Councils. I am not standing over a particular policy for this Bill. The simplest thing in that case would be for the Senator to put down an amendment. It seems to me when you have the county council and General Council of County Councils represented, that you have ample representation of local bodies.

Mr. Hayes

I would not be inclined myself to add to them. If anybody puts down an amendment, we can discuss it and, if necessary, vote on it.

May I say, about Queen Victoria, as a life long nationalist, in the old phrase, that a portrait of the Famine Queen does not worry me in the slightest? When I see her, when I see a picture of a king or a queen in this country, it does not set me in a rage.

If it is a good picture.

Mr. Hayes

That is the important thing, I quite agree—or a good statue, I am inclined to say: "Well, they reigned here for a long time and they had to get out." I find a certain amount of pleasure as Senator O'Connell has said, in looking at a good picture or statue no matter who is the subject, but that has very little to do with the Meath Hospital Bill. I would like to say that the debate was a good one. I take it that we will have the Second Stage without a division.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 7th March, 1951.