Health Bill, 1954—Committee and Final Stages.

Question proposed: "That Section 1 stand part of the Bill."

Before the section is put, we would like to have some explanation from the Minister as to what the section really means.

Section 1 is intended to remove for the time being from insured workers in benefit the liability of being charged any sum in respect of treatment and maintenance in hospitals. As Senators will recollect from the Second Reading debate, under Section 15 of the Health Act, 1953, power is given to health authorities to charge all persons, except the sick poor, a sum not exceeding 6/- per day, or £2 2s. 0d. per week, in respect of their stay in hospital. At the moment every insured worker who is in benefit—that is, who has 150 stamps to his credit—is entitled to free treatment in both county and voluntary hospitals for a period limited to six weeks. The purpose of this section is to maintain that position for such period as may be determined by the Minister.

Would it be possible for the Minister to approach the draftsmen to find out whether or not a section such as this could be couched in such language that people could interpret it properly for themselves? As it is devised at the moment it is first-class gobbledy-gook and, as such, it provides a very serious headache for certain local authorities. It should be possible to put a section such as this into the language in which the Minister has now explained it to us, but that is not the language in which it is couched.

I wonder would the Senator suggest a draft?

If I gave my mind to it, I would probably make a better hand of it than this.

I am not entirely satisfied with the Minister's explanation of this section. Section 15 of the Health Act, 1953, provides for a number of persons to avail of medical, institutional and specialist services. The Minister has referred to only one of these groups. The particular section which this Bill puts into abeyance until such time as the Minister may, by Order, put it into operation at a later date reads:—

"(1) A health authority shall, in accordance with regulations, make available institution and specialist service for the persons specified in sub-section (2) of this section."

Sub-section (2) refers to the categories of persons enumerated; the Minister in his explanation referred to only one particular class of the five classes enumerated, namely, those persons referred to in sub-section (1) of this section and those who come under the Social Welfare Act, 1952.

Sub-section (2) makes provision for:—

"(b) adult persons whose yearly means are less than £600,

(c) adult persons whose yearly means are, in the opinion of the health authority, derived wholly or mainly from farming, the rateable valuation of the farm or farms (including the buildings thereon) being £50 or less."

I would like to point out that what we are doing in passing this particular section is making available to a particular class of all the classes referred to, namely, the insured workers, medical and institutional treatment provided, as the Minister has already pointed out, they have a certain amount of contributions made on their national health cards; and we are withholding from a large section of our people something to which they were looking forward on 1st August next.

The group in which I am particularly interested is the group comprised of people who derive their income from their own activities; I refer to those who are self-employed. Recently, we have had presented to us a very elaborate document, the report of a commission that sat over a number of years. That commission was appointed to deal with two problems—the problem of unemployment and the problem of emigration. Certain recommendations have been made. If we pass this section I hold we will further encourage our people to leave the rural areas and seek insurable employment through the medium of workers' organisations in the cities and towns. If they do not do that, they will be deprived of the benefits of the Health Act, 1954. I would like to see the local carpenter, the local blacksmith, the small tradesman, the farmer with a valuation of £15 or £20 getting the benefits that we now propose to give to the insured worker.

We propose under this section to give to the insured worker the benefits of the Act. Side by side with him we have the small farmer with £2 or £15 valuation, the craftsman, the tradesman and the small shopkeeper who, if they seek medical aid, hospital or specialist treatment, will receive it but will have to pay for it. I would like to say at this stage that we appreciate that up to this the medical profession has been very generous in the application of its services: no person has gone without the necessary medical services, irrespective of income, but if they happen to be in a particular income group invariably a bill is presented to them for such services. I have here, and I will present it to the Minister, a bill received by a small farmer in Connemara for medical treatment and hospitalisation. His poor law valuation is in the region of £2. The bill he received is in the region of £38.

Those familiar with Connemara know the meagre existence that the people there eke out. From that point of view regard must be had to what we propose doing here now. We are giving the tradesman, with an income of £600 a year, free medical treatment for himself at the expense of £44,000 to the ratepayers and we are, at the same time, denying that treatment to the small farmer with a valuation of £2. I think this is the most important section of this Bill and for that reason and because the Minister has not given to us arguments we could accept, there is very little we can do but oppose the operation of this section.

Senator Hawkins mentioned the recent Report on Emigration and Unemployment which came into my possession yesterday. He mentioned that as a report which would add weight to the arguments which he put forward. I do not think any of us had an opportunity of reading that report or, at any rate, arriving at a conclusion. I doubt, with all due respect to Senator Hawkins, if he had any opportunity of reading that report either.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 2 put and agreed to.
SECTION 3.
Question proposed: "That Section 3 stand part of the Bill."

This section deals with the provision of institutional treatment and gives to the patient something that has gathered around it a very great controversy, that is, choice of hospital. We should like to hear from the Minister something in support of this section.

I do not think the Senator appreciates the effect of the section. The effect of the section follows on Section 1 and it is to preserve the right of a choice of hospital but to prevent an insured worker from being charged £2 2s. a week if he decides to select a hospital other than the county hospital. Of course, anyone who opposes that section does so in the belief that it is proper under present circumstances to impose a charge of 6/- a day on insured workers who at the moment under the Social Welfare Act are entitled to free treatment in a hospital.

This section again gives to the insured worker a right over every other class of the various classes that are provided for under the 1953 Health Act. The Minister has questioned as to whether any person who is prepared to oppose this section would be prepared to impose on the insured worker a levy of £2 2s. per week. The charge made by the various institutions, both by the county hospitals and the voluntary hospitals, is a sum in the region of £5 or £5 12s. per week. This sum must be paid. By implementing this section, we are now transferring that obligation from the Department of Social Welfare to the ratepayers throughout the country.

I would like those members sitting opposite to us, who have gone up and down the country and attempted to influence the various local authorities against the implementing of this measure because of the charge that it would place on the ratepayers, to bear in mind that the passage of this section is now going to place on the ratepayers an additional burden of £44,000 to provide service for a particular class. That class is the insured worker and the service we are providing for this class under this section is only in relation to the worker himself. If we were to give full effect to Section 22 of the 1953 Act we would be making available, not alone to the worker but to his wife and family, the facilities we are now prepared to withdraw from him as we are withdrawing from the Department of Social Welfare the obligation of providing the necessary funds to meet these commitments.

The question is: That Section 3 stand part of the Bill.

Before we pass from this section, is there no answer to that question?

Surely, the question has no reference to the section? The section does not give the insured worker precedence over other workers.

Of course it does.

The Senator asked me at the commencement if I would explain, and I did explain that the section is intended to prevent an insured worker from being charged 6/-a day. It has no other effect. I do not think it is necessary for me to repeat that time and time again.

The section provides that the insured worker is now entitled to a service that is denied to his fellow worker, that is, an uninsured worker——

I can assure the Senator it does not.

——and that the ratepayers will now have the responsibility of meeting the charge towards which, by stamping cards, the worker and his employer make a contribution. We are relieving the Department of Social Welfare and placing the responsibility on the Department of Health. The Minister stated in the Dáil that it is only a matter of book-keeping and of transferring from the Department of Social Welfare to the Department of Health a sum of £44,000.

The question is——

There is no answer to it.

Question put and agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 1:—

Before Section 4 to insert a new section as follows:—

( ) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, Sections 15, 16 and 17 of the Health Act, 1953, shall come into operation on the 1st day of August, 1954, in respect of the area of every local authority which is in a position to operate the sections referred to.

On the Second Stage we had discussions here as to whether or not it would be practicable to operate the Health Act in the areas that are in a position to do so. The Minister has given us his view that it would not be good policy to allow the public authorities, which already had made provision and are now in a position to give full effect to the Health Act, to operate it. I am of opinion that that view should not be held by the Minister. I do not want to take him at a disadvantage. I acknowledge the fact that he is not very long in the office of Minister for Public Health. I agree that it takes some time for a person to make himself familiar with all the activities of a State Department. However, so far as that Act is concerned, I feel that the Minister must have given serious consideration to it and must have examined every aspect of the matter before he came to the Dáil or to this House with the present Bill. I suggest that he must have asked his officials many questions. I assume that one of his questions was, as to how many local authorities throughout the Twenty-Six Counties are in a position to give full effect to the Health Act on the 1st August.

In that connection, there is one question which has been agitating the people up and down the country, and I think we should get an answer to it here and now. The question is, what were the circumstances which brought about the situation that when one Minister asked his officials when in their judgment could the Act be brought into effect they advised him that it could, in all reasonableness, be given effect on the 1st July. The then Minister, on receiving that answer, decided, according to his own judgment, to allow another month before bringing it into effect. Accordingly, he made regulations to the effect that the sections which we are now discussing, and which the Bill before us proposes to put into abeyance, would come into operation on the 1st August. The position, however, is that the present Minister, both here and in the Dáil, said that he was acting on the advice, first, of the Medical Council and, secondly, on the advice of his officials in the Department of Public Health.

Senators can very well realise the difficulty in which people throughout the country find themselves in trying to relate these two advices. The advices were given by the same officials, I assume, but they were given in answer to two different questions. The first question put by the then Minister was: "When do you think I could reasonably operate this Act?" I assume that the question put to the officials by the present Minister must have been: "Well, how do you think I could reasonably get out of operating the Public Health Act?" That, I assume, was the question which the political head of the Department asked those people who must operate the policy that he puts before them, and he probably got the answer that he wished to get. I do not think that is a good thing. I think that grave damage has been done to our public departments by having this controversy brought into this and the other House in relation to the different advices tendered to two different Ministers on two different questions being put to the officials, because the questions were different questions.

How does the Senator know that?

I am sure that, while Senator O'Donnell may come to my aid, he will come more to the aid of the Minister on this particular issue. He will come more to his aid than he would to mine.

That is not an answer to my question.

No, except to say that, when questions are put by people who can suitably change their affiliations from time to time, they do not deserve any answer.

That is very clever.

The subject before the House now is the amendment which I have moved. I am sure that those members of the House who have given serious thought to this question will support it. A number of Dáil Deputies who are also members of local authorities spoke on this Bill when it was before that House. They spoke on behalf of the local authorities of which they are members. Deputy McQuillan, an Independent Deputy, spoke on behalf of Roscommon County Council; Deputy McGrath spoke on behalf of the Cork Corporation, and Deputy Gilbride spoke on behalf of the Sligo public health authority. The newspapers this morning published resolutions which have been passed by two county councils. One of them is the Westmeath County Council, a body that is not controlled by Fianna Fáil.

Yes, it is.

We also had a resolution passed by the Galway County Council, and it is on behalf of that body that I wish to speak. The Galway public health authority is one of the most advanced that we have in Ireland. It was the first public health authority to adopt the scheme for the appointment of a county medical officer of health. It was foremost in accepting the proposal to have school medical inspections. I am not asking Senators to accept my word for what I say. I refer them to the visit that we had last year from responsible members of the medical profession in the United States. They investigated the facilities that are available in our universities and in our medical schools. As a result of their investigations, they classified Galway as one of the foremost. The greatest harmony obtains between the central regional hospital in Galway and the university there. I may say that we have every facility there to enable us to operate the Health Act of 1953.

At a meeting of the Galway County Council on Saturday last the members of that body passed a resolution which Senators may have read in the newspapers. That resolution, I may say, was not a recommendation by the political members of that county council. It was a resolution which was supported and approved by the county manager of Galway, who is a member of the National Health Council, and at the meeting I refer to he expressed the view that this particular section of the Health Act of 1953 could and should be given effect to as far as Galway is concerned, on the 1st August next.

The Minister, in the arguments that he has used against giving effect to it in particular regions, implied that the richer counties would benefit while the poorer counties would be denied the facilities that are offered by the Act. Nobody in his wildest imagination would suggest that Galway was a rich county because two-thirds of it is composed of the Gaeltacht areas of Connemara and I am sure if the Minister is not familiar with that particular region the leader of his Party, Senator Hayes, is. But despite all this, we are in a position in County Galway to put into full effect every section of this Act. Not alone that, but we have provided—the ratepayers have provided—in their contribution to the rates this year, no less a sum than 1/3 in the £ for the full implementation of this particular section.

Was it a unanimous request?

Where did the request come from?

You said that Galway County Council passed a resolution asking that the Health Act be implemented on the 1st August. Was it a unanimous request?

The Galway County Council is foremost in Ireland in every way and it is no wonder that Senator O'Donnell should say "Hear, hear!" as a Galway man himself. The position is this: When provision was made in the 1947 Health Bill for a 50-50 contribution in relation to expenditure over the years on public health services, Galway was one of the first that benefited from it. Why? Because they are the most progressive public health authority in Ireland. Now, if we pass this Bill without this amendment we are depriving the people of the fruits of the efforts and the sacrifices they have made in contributing through the rate that was placed upon them this year.

We have a regional hospital there which cost over £1,250,000. We have a regional sanatorium which cost in or about the same. We have many local and privately-owned institutions that contribute to the medical services in Galway. I put it to the House that if we are to wait as the Minister seems to propose, taking what he said on the Second Reading into account, that he is not prepared to sanction the implementation of any section of this Act until it can be brought in on a nation-wide scale; if the people of Galway, Sligo, Roscommon and other counties— Dublin, in particular, because we have heard and we know that the voluntary hospitals in Dublin are prepared to enter into an agreement with the Department of Health to provide all the facilities that are necessary—are to have to wait and if the Minister is not prepared to accept and give effect to this motion, then we must, I think, take it that he is not prepared to give effect to any section of the Health Act.

I should like to say that I find myself in general sympathy with this amendment. As I indicated the other day, speaking on the Second Stage, the suggestion is that those local authorities who deem themselves ready to implement the Act, which we all want to see implemented, should be allowed to go ahead. It was clear in the debate on the Second Stage the other day that some Senators are very definite in not wanting an indefinite postponement. In fact, they want an implementation very quickly. Nevertheless, some of these Senators support the Government, support the Minister, and accept his case, because they say the case made by the Minister is a reasonable one.

He has put forward certain reasons why he considers it not advisable, not even possible, to implement the Act on a nation-wide scale now. We do not have to go into those reasons again, but many of the Minister's supporters voted with him because they accepted as valid the case he stated to the effect that it was not possible to implement the Act at once, in relation to bed accommodation, arrangements with doctors and so on, on a nation-wide scale. They accepted the reasons for delay, but the Minister is aware that in some areas mentioned just now by Senator Hawkins these reasons, in the opinion of the local authorities, do not obtain.

I am afraid that is not so—I am not so aware.

In the opinion of the local authorities. I would accept—I may be wrong—that a county council such as Galway or Roscommon County Council, in saying they are ready to implement the Act, feel that they can. Deputy McQuillan in the Dáil said in effect:

"We can implement it; it will not be perfect at once, but nothing is. We can go ahead."

I feel as a member of this Seanad that I have to accept the word of these locally-elected councillors that they are in a position to go ahead. The Minister is not convinced by them, but nevertheless it seems to me it is reasonable to ask, as this amendment does, that where a local authority thinks it can go ahead and has stated so publicly, it should be allowed to do so. In other words, the case for delay on a nation-wide scale which has convinced many of the Minister's supporters in the Dáil and the Seanad no longer obtains when we find a local authority in a certain area willing to go ahead.

I made the point also the other day that if the Minister were to accept some such suggestion as this he would acquire most valuable information by means of these counties and these areas which could be regarded as experimental counties or pilot counties. He could acquire information as to how in practice the Health Act would work out if he were to select areas—I feel myself it is not absolutely indispensable—in the terms of this amendment, to insist that the Act be implemented in every area where the local authority is in a position to do so. Even if this amendment is rejected the Minister has power to select certain areas where, I think, the local authorities are right in feeling they can go ahead. He has power to let them go ahead and create these experimental areas in relation to the Health Act.

I would ask the Seanad to consider what valuable information in relation to cost, and in relation to doctors' fees and to the real, effective demand for hospital beds could be obtained by means of these experimental counties or areas. It would not be sufficient, I think, to implement the Act in one county, and not sufficient to have one pilot area: it would be essential to have several, for purposes of comparison because the success or failure in any area might depend upon local characteristics. But if you had a certain number of experimental areas where the Act could be implemented, you could get all sorts of information which as yet the health authorities of this country have no other way of getting. You could have comparison; you could have a trying out of the scheme, and if, as some critics of the Act hold, the scheme is not workable in its present form, you could find that out on a minor scale.

If, on the other hand, it proves to work far better than some of its critics believe it would, you could go ahead and profit by the experience and errors in these individual pilot areas or experimental counties. I personally would like to see the Act implemented in every area but even if we do not do that and even if we do not implement it in every area where the local authority is at present convinced it can implement it, the Minister has the power, even if this amendment is defeated, as he told the Dáil, to implement it in any area for any section for whom he sees fit to implement it.

I put it, therefore, to the Seanad that there are very great possibilities offered by this amendment, and that there is nothing to lose by accepting it. I would ask those supporters of the Minister who are quite categorical in their refusal to have an indefinite postponement of the Act, to consider whether this is not an opportunity for them to show that they intend to have the Act put into effect as quickly as possible wherever it can be put into operation, and I ask them to ask themselves what can be gained by delay in areas where the local authorities are ready and willing now to implement the Act.

Is maith liom gur chuir an Seanadóir Ó hÁicín an leasú seo síos. Bhí an ceart aige é sin a dhéanamh agus bhí an ceart aige a mheabhrú don tSeanad an rud atá an tAire ag iarraidh a dhéanamh. Baineann an leasú le trí ailt, ailt 15, 16 agus 17, agus má bhreathnaíonn Seanadóirí ar na teidil imill feicfidh siad go mbaineann na hailt sin le trí chineál seirbhísí—"institutional and specialist services," an céad cheann; "medical care for mothers," an dara cheann; agus "infant welfare services," an tríú cheann. Is trí chineál seirbhísí iad gur fada linn go gcuirfear ar fáil iad do mhuintir na tíre. Gach aon cheann acu, tá sé thar a bheith tábhachtach agus má táthar le iad a chur ar fionraí, ní mór miniú níos fearr a thabhairt duinn ar an gcúis atá leis sin a dhéanamh ná mar tugadh dúinn go dtí seo.

Cho fada agus is féidir a dhéanamh amach, deir an tAire nach bhfuil dóthain leapacha sa tír. Is deacair a chreistint go bhfuil sé dá ríre faoi sin. Tá finaise againn gur cuireadh ar fáil, ón mbliain 1947, an bhliain a ritheadh an tAcht Sláinte, timpeall le 9,000 leaba sa mbreis. Ón scrúdú atá déanta i gcás na n-ospideál a bhíos ag freastal ar mháthaireacha, ar na mná, is léir go bhféadfadh na hospidéil freastal ar dá dtrian ar a laghad de na mná a bheadh ag iompar cloinne. Is léir nach mar gheall ar leapacha a bheith in easnamh atá an tAire ag iarraidh na hailt sin a chur de leataobh nó iad do chur ar fionraí. Ní dóigh liom gurb é ceist na leapachaí gurb é ceist chumas na n-ospidéal freastal ar na hothar an cheist mhór. Is léir gur féidir leis na hospidéil freastal orthú agus freastal orthu cuid mhaith. Ní leor don Aire, mar sin, teacht anseo agus a rá nach féidir freastal orthú céad faom gcéad. An lá a bhfeicfmuid gur féidir freastal ar aon rud céad faoin gcéad, beidh "Utopia" ar fáil ann. Is cinnte má cuirtear na hailt seo i bhfeidhm go mbeidh daoine breise ag teacht ag lorg cabhrach sna hospidéil. Tá mé cinnte go dtiocfadh breis daoine, ach ní mheasaim go dtiocfaidís ina sluaite mar cheapas an tAire agus na daoine atá ag cuidiú leis. Má thagann daoine breise ag lorg cabhrach sna hospidéil céard a chiallós sin? Ciallaíonn sé go bhfuil a lán daoine tinn faoi láthair a dteastaíonn na seirbhísí uathu agus níl siad á iarraidh anois. Cén fáth? Mar gheall air nach bhfuil siad i ndon íoc astu. Luaigh an Seanadóir Ó hÁicín cás duine a chuaigh isteach in ospidéal—duine ar luacháil £2—agus, ar theacht amach dó ón ospidéal, a fuair bille ar bheagnach £40. Tá a fhios agam féin cás sa Ghaeltacht faoi dhuine bocht a chuaigh isteach in ospidéal agus cailleadh é agus bhí ar a bhean a stoc a dhíol le cuid den bhille a ghlanadh.

Bhfuil aon bhaint aige sin leis an leasú seo?

Tá. Tá mé ag iarraidh a theasbáint—

Gur féidir an tAcht do chur i bhfeidhm.

——mar gheall ar na trí hailt seo, go bhfuil siad thar a bheith tábhachtach agus gur féidir na seirbhísí atá i gceist a chur ar fáil. Tá mé a rá nach ceist leapacha nó ceist cumas na n-ospidéal nó doctúirí freastail ar na hothair an cheist atá le réiteach againn. Pé ar bith ceist í, ní shin í an cheist. Tá mé a lua cás duine ar theastaigh seirbhísí uaidh agus a chuaigh isteach san ospidéal. Fuair a bhaintreach bille árd, oiread agus gur scrios sí í féin sa deireadh. Má thagann daoine breise ag lorg cahbrach, ciallaíonn sé go bhfuil siad ina call. Is cinnte go mbeidh daoine breise ag éileamh seirbhísí ospidéil agus doctúra níos treise ná daoine eile. Ceapann an tAire agus na daoine atá ag aontú leis go bhfágfar na daoine bochta chun deire má féachtar leis na hailt seo a chur i bhfeidhm faoi láthair. Más fíor é sin don Aire, is ionann é agus a rá gur dream cam iad na dochtúirí, más fíor go bhfágfar duine bocht i leataobh go ndéanfaí áit do dhuine deisiúil agus gan an duine deisiúil sin a bheith cho tinn nó níos tinne ná an duine eile.

Má thagann daoine go dtí na hospidéil, beidh ar na dochtúirí a rá cé acu is géire a dteastaíonn an cúnamh uaidh—is cuma an duine bocht nó duine deisiúil é—do réir má atá gá leis, do réir a ghéire atá an tinneas ar an duine ba cheart go bhfuigheadh sé tús áite.

Mar adeirim, b'fhéidir go dtiocfaidh daoine chuig na hospidéil, ach má tá tú chun fanacht go mbeidh slí iontú do gach duine, ní chuirfear an Acht Sláinte, 1953, i bhfeidhm choíche.

Ní dóigh liom gur gá dom a thuille eile a rá. Ní hé nach bhfuil a thuille le rá faoi, ach is maith liom gur cuireadh an leasú seo síos. Ba mhaith liom a mheabhrú arís do Sheanadóirí an rud atá beartaithe, na hailt seo a chur ar neamhní. Ba mhaith liom go gcuimhneoidís ar na seirbhísí atáthar ag brath a chur ar ceal, nach mar gheall air nach bhfuil slí sna hospidéil, nach mar gheall ar nach mbeidh na dochtúirí sásta na h-ailt seo a chur i bhfeidhm atá siad á gcur ar neamhní ach ar chúis éigin eile nár nochtaíodh dúinn go fóill. Tá súil agam go n-aontóidh an Seanad leis an leasú seo.

I did not intend to intervene in this debate at this stage but, in view of the turn the debate is taking, I think I ought to say a few words.

We discussed the health services in Tipperary early this month at our county council meeting. We discussed them for some two hours. The point was made with regard to the coming into operation of the Health Act, 1953, on 1st August and not a single member of that county council was of the opinion that the Act could be brought into operation on the first day of August.

It would be a great pity that we should start experimenting with people's health. Our health services have been built up over a number of years. Any Senator who is a member of a visiting committee or a similar body knows the work that has been done and the improvement in the health services that has taken place over a number of years. Health services must of necessity be built up with care and foresight. They must not be rushed into. I hate to hear Senators saying that we will experiment with our health services. That is a matter with which we ought not to experiment. Medical science in itself is sufficiently experimental without experimenting with health services. I do not believe there is one county council in Ireland that would unanimously request the Minister to have the health services introduced. Westmeath was mentioned. There was a simple vote in Westmeath. Ten votes were in favour of bringing in the services; eight votes were against it.

It would be a pity that the health services that all the people will get should be made a matter of politics. In South Tipperary, we tried to keep politics out of the health services. We have excellent health services. We have two county hospitals and three district hospitals. In four years I have never received a complaint from anyone about the services that are being given there. We think that if every farmer under £50 valuation and every person whose income is under £600 a year could demand as a right the full services that we have at the present moment in South Tipperary we may not be able to deal with them.

That is why, in my opinion, the Minister has objected to bringing in some of the sections immediately. He is prudent and he is wise. No Minister could resist doing something that was really good. When the Minister had to bring in this short Bill and when he got such support from various types of people in the country, it is a pity that we should hear it said in Seanad Éireann that we ought to have pilot counties where we would experiment with the health services. It would be very bad for this country to start any form of experimenting. Let us give the best services that we can to the poor and the needy and to everyone else to whom we can afford to give them but do not let us experiment with these people.

I should like to take up this point about the pilot tests and the experimental counties and so forth because I think we have a first-rate experiment going on at the present time in our own country, that is, the experiment in the Six Counties. I was looking at some of the results and the first result that struck me most forcibly indeed was the bill. I have here the account of the health services in Britain published by the General Office of Information, London. The appendix to this work gives the cost of the national health services from 1st April, 1952 to 31st March, 1953, for Northern Ireland and the figure is £12.9 million. I thought that was a misprint. The total receipts were £1.8 million. That means that approximately £11,000,000 has been spent on a population of about 1,000,000. An experiment carried out on the same lines, embracing our entire part of our country, would cost us between £20,000,000 and £30,000,000. There must be something very funny somewhere.

If we are to do this properly we will have to pay a very big bill. When Senator Hawkins, in proposing this amendment, refers to "every local authority who is in a position to operate the sections referred to", I wonder how many local authorities are in a position to operate the sections referred to and to take the consequences.

All through discussions on question of national health it seems to me that the fundamental question of the cost is a question that we never really face squarely. To operate a proper health service will be a most expensive business and we will have to operate a proper health service, of course, but if it is going to run into sums like millions I would not like to see the stress of the expenditure devoted to cure at the expense of prevention—as I said on the other day, not so much entirely on an ill-health Bill but a good Health Bill which begins with housing, nutrition and such-like things.

It is said that you can starve an animal to death without its knowing if you do it very slowly. It may be possible to bleed the taxpayer or the ratepayer to death if you do it very slowly but you will get some very convalescent ratepayers before you are finished with them and there will be very many convalescent ratepayers in some of these areas when they see some of the bills from these pilot experiments.

I do not like the use of the term "experiment" in this connection. It is not really an experiment involving risk to the life of the victim like some medical experiments may be but it is an experiment that will be much more expensive if carried out in small areas than collectively. To implement the Act properly you will require quite expensive central departments. Materials will, no doubt, be sent from these local areas operating the Act to one of the large cities for tests to be done that cannot be done locally.

I think if any local authority were to operate the Act within its own area it would have to face a great deal more local expense, and general expense, than possibly would be necessary when the Act comes into general operation. Of course, if on the other hand any local authority wishes to come forward and say: "Yes, we will start to operate the Act on the 1st August" and if any of them is prepared to risk that, we can pass the amendment. We have done our best to warn them but until local authorities realise what they will be letting themselves in for by operating these sections on the 1st August I certainly do not feel inclined to support this amendment. We are dodging the bill and will have to face the bill sooner or later.

We have heard the argument put forward by many people in all ages that money can be found for war and for many other undesirable activities, but one of the purposes for which money has always been denied is the provision of proper health services for our people. Senator Fearon has objected to my amendment on the ground of its cost. The cost in this case is a matter for the elected representatives of the people. Members of the particular county council or health authority to which I have referred are compelled by statute to come before the people at particular times for reelection. The next occasion on which that will happen will be some time next June. They will then have to answer for the moneys they have spent and how these moneys have been spent during their term of office. They have expressed by resolution their desire to give full implementation to the Health Act of 1953. They had already discharged their obligation last March in providing a sum, as I have already stated, of no less than 1/3 in the £. I was amazed at the statement made by Senator Burke. I might have taken his statement wrongly, but I gathered from what he said that at a meeting last week——

Early this month.

We shall take it, then, as early this month. Early this month, then, was the first occasion on which this health authority of County Tipperary gave consideration to the implementation of the Health Act.

It never occurred at all. The statement was completely misleading.

There is one question which I should like to ask the Minister through the Chair: how many public health authorities in the Twenty-Six Counties did not in their annual estimate provide some money for the implementation of the 1953 Public Health Act? Was Tipperary one of those counties? If it were not, this question of the Health Act must have come up at an earlier date before the Tipperary health authority which is now the county council. I should like to know through the Chair again what were the recommendations made at that particular meeting. I understand—and I should like Senator Burke or Senator Tierney to correct me if I am wrong— that an estimates meeting was held by the Tipperary County Council. These estimates meetings are very important and no member of the county council likes to be absent from them. At that meeting, the estimates for the coming year are before the county council and every county councillor makes an effort, if he can, to reduce the estimates or to make some suggestion as to how he thinks they can be reduced.

Tipperary County Council in their wisdom made provision for a certain sum of money and that particular sum of money was to be devoted to giving full effect to the 1953 Public Health Act on the understanding that it was to be enforced on the 1st August. It is news to me now to learn that it was only on the 1st of this month that they woke up to the fact that they had not the facilities available or that they should be in a position to pass a resolution, to make the position of the Minister easier, to the effect that they were not prepared to put the Health Act into operation.

Senator Fearon gave us some very valuable information in relation to the expenditure of the Six Counties on health services. It is not so long ago— only a matter of a few years—since a very vigorous political Party set out to demonstrate to the people of this country the importance of bringing our social welfare schemes and our public health schemes into line with those of the Six Counties. They urged that until we could achieve that objective we could not hope to induce the workers of the Six Counties to come in voluntarily and become subject to an Irish Parliament. How far that political Party got with that policy is a question for themselves to answer, but it was a very live issue at the time. I am sure that when Senator Fearon referred to this particular matter to-day, he had that idea in view, that if we are going to make any serious advance towards encouraging our fellow workers across the Border to support the movement for unity, particularly the small farming community and the self-employed, we must at least make some attempt to provide them with the best services that we can afford to supply. Senator Fearon's argument in that connection, just as his argument about the cost to the local authority, I think, falls to the ground.

I would seriously put it to the Minister that he should accept the amendment. As Senator Sheehy Skeffington has pointed out, it is a recognition of the progressive attitude of councils who are courageous enough to provide facilities and to provide the necessary money. Despite what members of the Minister's Party have said up and down the country, despite all the propaganda that has been carried on, the county councils to which I have referred have been prepared in season and out of season to face the people and to ask the people to make the necessary financial contribution through the rates to provide these facilities. Apart from that, the Minister will have knowledge that the action of these pilot councils in the operation of this Act can be of very great assistance to him, and I think he would be very foolish not to accept the proposal, that we are putting to him, that full effect should be given to the Act in these countries on the 1st August.

The amendment as tabled by the Senator does illustrate some of the loose thinking, I fear, that has been indulged in by some Senators. I was at some pains on the Second Reading—and most Senators appreciated what I meant—to explain that this Bill does not prevent any section of the Health Act, 1953, going into operation. On the 1st August, Sections 15, 16 and 17 of the Health Act, 1953, will come into operation in all parts of the country, including the County of Galway. There is no part of the Bill designed to prevent any of the sections going into operation in accordance with the provisions of the Health Act, 1953. Accordingly, it is difficult to understand this amendment, which says:

"Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, Sections 15, 16 and 17 of the Health Act, 1953, shall come into operation on the 1st day of August, 1954...."

They are coming into operation on that date. The amendment goes on— if it means what it says—to restrict the operation of the Health Act, 1953, only to the counties which resolve that they are able to bear the brunt.

Senator Hawkins, who proposed this amendment, has said that in Tipperary Sections 15, 16 and 17 of the Health Act shall not come into operation because apparently Tipperary forms the view that it cannot bear the brunt; that the section shall only go into operation in the counties which express themselves as willing to have it. I do not think I would adopt that restrictive approach to the Health Act. In any event, this Bill is not designed to do that. All the sections will go into operation in accordance with the parent Act of 1953.

Of course, I understand that what the Senator has in mind is that the Seanad would desire to see on the 1st August, 1954, in five days' time, the services under the Health Act applied to all the classes in Section 15 in all the local authority areas where an opinion to that effect was expressed. The only thing I would like to say about that is that I am carrying out the policy of my predecessor. I am not endeavouring to alter the principles laid down in the Health Act of 1953.

The principles laid down in the Health Act, 1953, in this particular context are these—that it is the Minister and the Minister alone who shall decide by regulations made under the Health Act, 1953, where, when and to what extent the services shall be applied. That was the decision in policy of my predecessor, Dr. Ryan, and that is the policy which I am following. That is the policy which this amendment attacks and that is the policy to which the Senator who proposes the amendment is opposed. I think the policy is right. I think it is proper that it should be the Minister who has the responsibility who should decide to what extent county councillors and local authorities are in a position to discharge their responsibilities.

A good example is Galway. The Senator referred to a resolution passed by the Galway County Council on Saturday. He assured the House that it was passed by non-political public representatives of the Galway County Council. I do not know whether there are such—I assume that there probably are—but it would be a small gathering of Galway county councillors. This small gathering passed a resolution to the effect that in Galway everything is perfect; facilities are there, hospitals are there and the full services can go into operation on the 1st August.

What is the position? In Galway the main source of hospital beds is the Galway Central Hospital. That hospital is being rebuilt. There is at the moment a long waiting list, sometimes as many as 200 people waiting to get into Galway Central Hospital. The hospital is grossly overcrowded. In fact, they have to put patients on stretchers in the wards and in the corridors in order to enable them to deal with the urgent cases. Yet this is the view, passed without regard to the facts, by non-political members of the Galway County Council. If the Minister accepted that view and allowed these gentlemen to operate the health services according to their non-political views in Galway, I hesitate to think what would be the position of the sick, the poor and the needy in Galway County.

They do not count.

Of course, in addition, these non-political members of the Galway County Council must have a special way of dealing with the nurses, the chemists, the doctors, and all the other bodies in relation to whom no agreement whatsoever has so far been concluded. For instance, under the Health Act, 1953, provision is made for maternity services and for a choice of doctor. It is at the moment involving certain conferences and negotiations with the nurses' organisations and the different bodies interested and with the medical profession. I hope that these negotiations will be successfully concluded, but I was not aware that the non-political members of Galway County Council were carrying on special negotiations of their own which were happily concluded last Saturday in Galway.

Might I make a statement?

The Minister.

The Senator has no right to make a statement.

The Senator will be called upon.

I will give way to the Senator.

If Galway could be taken as a criterion of what Tipperary is, I would say the Minister would be misled to a tremendous extent. The statement made by Senator Burke would be unheard of in this or any other House in the world.

The Minister.

Might I also point out in relation to what Senator Sheehy Skeffington said that, again, it ties up with what I said. Under the Health Act, 1953, the decision in relation to the extent to which health authorities were to provide the services was to be the responsibility of the Minister and not of the health authorities. I have the power already under the Act if I so wish to apply these services in different counties. The amendment does not give me the power. The amendment does not confer any power on me. It is there under the Act, but it is a matter of policy.

In relation to the exercise of powers that I have without this Bill, I do not think it is a relevant matter for Senators to enter into a discussion as to what policy I should follow. I will be answerable in the Dáil later on for the policy I follow. It is not a matter to which I would have to give very serious consideration as to whether I would differentiate between different groups of Irishmen living in different parts of the country. I thought that it was agreed in both Houses that partition of our citizens was not desirable. Whatever partitioning we may have in the Government of this country, it certainly would not be desirable that health services should also be partitioned in different parts of Ireland. However, that is a matter of policy and I do not think it is strictly relevant to a Bill which does not confer that power on me.

I think it was Senator Ó Buachalla who discussed the increase in hospital beds. The Senator's contribution is another example of the errors into which a not very close study of this problem might lead one. There has been a substantial increase in the number of hospital beds in the country.

It took a long time to get that out.

However, in relation to the services which we are now discussing, the increase of 3,000 beds that has occurred over some years back can, for almost all purposes, be disregarded. The greater part of the increase has taken place in relation to T.B. beds. New sanatoria have been built. Provision has been made over the past number of years for the social problem of T.B. That is no solution in relation to the services we are discussing under the Health Act. A great number of fever beds have been provided but, again, that is not a provision which helps me in relation to the particular services we are now discussing. In addition, a large number of beds have been provided in mental institutions and for mental defectives and, again, that does not assist me in relation to general medical and surgical cases.

With regard to general beds that would be available for the purposes of the Health Act, the provision is relatively small. In fact, something around 240 extra beds in the entire country have been provided. That is a very small addition and certainly it does not represent any tremendous stride in the provision of beds for the purposes set out in the Act. It is true to say, with regard to accommodation, that hospitals will be opened in the future—and, of course, hospitals are at the moment being built and some are being opened. A small hospital was opened last week. I have no doubt that the trouble with regard to accommodation will right itself in time. What I am concerned with, and what the Seanad is concerned with, is what the position is likely to be in five days' time. You cannot build hospitals in the clouds or merely dream of hospital bed accommodation.

The question of other facilities has been ignored by different Senators— the question of staffing, of nurses, chemists and those other bodies whose agreement has to be secured to provide the services under the Act. I can assure Senators that the question of securing that agreement is at the moment having my very urgent attention—but I have not concluded the discussions yet.

I had thought that when the Minister would get up to reply he would be more appreciative of the good services rendered by members of a local authority such as the members of the Galway authority or of the Roscommon, Sligo or Cork authority, as the case might be, rather than make sarcastic remarks about their being a non-political body.

I merely used the Senator's term.

I have no apology to make and I am sure the members of the Galway County Council would not wish that I should. I might say, however, that the majority of that Council belong to a progressive political Party. It is because of their membership of this progressive political party that, last Saturday, they were in a position to declare, with the approval and recommendation of their county manager, that they had the facilities available to give full implementation to the 1953 Health Act. It comes very badly from a new Minister for Health either in this House or elsewhere to refer to them in the manner in which he did here this afternoon.

I am sure that Senator Hayes and those other members of this House who have long association with political Parties will agree with me that there is too much of this suggestion that because important matters such as public health are discussed by public representatives they should be accused of bringing public health or social welfare or any other service of that kind into the political arena. That is the function which we are sent here to perform. The Minister and those other people who belong to specialised professional groups who suggest that public representatives, either here or on the county councils or in the Dáil, have no right to discuss a matter of this kind are not, in my view, quite correct.

I think the members of this House, more than any other group, can claim that, in the main, we are elected to this House by the votes of the public representatives of the country and those public representatives themselves are elected by the ratepayers of their particular localities. When a local authority makes provision to give effect to a particular service—whether it be a social welfare or a public health service—it comes very badly from the Minister in charge of that particular Department to cast any aspersions on the members of the body in question. I do not know whether or not the Minister meant it in that way: I hope he did not. He suggests that the Minister has the power to do the things I want done by this amendment. This amendment is put down because of our lack of confidence in the Minister to give effect to the measures that we suggest should be given effect to.

When introducing this Bill, the Minister very definitely stated that he did not like the Health Act of 1953. When he was concluding his speech on the Second Reading of this Bill, he was even more emphatic: he stated he still did not like the Act, that he still did not believe it was the right approach, and so forth. Having regard not alone to the statement he made here but to the approach of himself and his Party over a long number of years to the various social welfare advancements that were made, we want to get something very definite now. Firstly, we want those local authorities who are in a position to do so and who are prepared to undergo the unpopularity— and it is unpopular for any public representative whether he be seeking membership of the Dáil or elsewhere— of putting an extra burden on the people, by way of the contribution of what is necessary from the rates, to be permitted to give full implementation to this service. We in Galway say that we are in that position. The Minister suggested that that is not true.

I know it is not true.

I wonder has the Minister been advised by his Department officials of what is the true position in Galway. I made reference already to the fact that we have a regional hospital there on the point of opening.

Being built.

Some of it is already occupied and provision is made there for 450 beds. We have a new hospital there, Calvary Hospital, opened last September, I think, by an order of nuns, which is supplementary to what the public health authority has already provided. We have there a number of private hospitals run by the various medical and nursing professions in the city. We have expenditure of £1,250,000 on a regional sanatorium. Surely the Minister should therefore not refer in a sarcastic manner as "non-political" to the body which has provided all these facilities for the people not alone of Galway but of Mayo and the other western counties.

Does the Senator know that both these buildings were 100 per cent. grants from the State?

That does not arise.

Oh, but it does.

In 1933 the then Government set up a hospitals commission by an Act of Parliament and that commission was charged in the first place——

Surely we are wandering very far from this amendment. Surely the House should be in a position now to take a decision on the amendment without going back to 1933. I admire the Senator's resourcefulness.

Surely if the Minister states where the money comes from it is only right that we should be in a position to put before this House how the moneys were come by.

I suggest that that is quite irrelevant.

We might also go into the question of all the money lost by the Hospitals Commission or where they invested it, so do not go into that, I would suggest.

The Hospitals Commission was set up in 1933——

I suggest that the Hospitals Commission is quite irrelevant to this amendment.

I will put it briefly.

Briefly or not, I suggest that the Hospitals Commission is quite irrelevant to this amendment.

You were not selected for the Chair.

I want a ruling on this.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator is quite entitled to point out from what source the money came for these hospitals in view of the Minister's question.

The Minister posed a question as to where the money came from.

The Minister has not asked that question. He has made a statement.

Well, we will take it as a statement. The Minister made that statement.

Might I put it to you, Sir, as a point of order, that this question about the Hospitals Commission has nothing whatever to do with the question of whether this particular Act of 1953 should or should not be put into operation regionally?

I submit this, that I quite agree with the Minister that before he can reasonably accept this amendment he must be satisfied that we have the necessary facilities.

That point, too, I suggest is irrelevant.

We must have the necessary facilities and the necessary hospitals, and the Minister is quite in order in asking where the money came from that erected the hospitals that are erected.

I stated where it came from when the Senator was saying that they were all provided by the rates of Galway. They were provided by 100 per cent. grants from the taxpayers of this country.

The facilities open to the public representatives of Galway were availed of, and they were open to all the public representatives, even of Leix-Offaly.

We did not get a regional hospital.

All that is beside the point.

The point is this: we had public-spirited representatives belonging to a progressive Party in charge of the public health authority in Galway who did go out in 1932 to provide the people with the facilities that are there now, and we are in a position to ask this House and the Minister to give that local authority permission to put into effect the terms of the 1953 Public Health Act, and that is the terms of the resolution.

Like Senator Burke, I had no intention of taking any part in this debate. Senator Burke gave as his reason the turn the debate has taken. To my mind, there has been no turn. It is just a complete repeat and rehash of what we listened to here on the Second Reading of this Bill. Senator Hawkins appears to be particularly alarmed and perturbed because the Minister is not in a position to give the date when he will implement these various sections we are discussing. It is no harm that I should repeat myself. I was in this House when the former Minister, Deputy Dr. Ryan, brought in the Health Bill, 1953, for final decision here. Senator Hawkins was sitting where we are sitting now, and he and his colleagues were as mute as mice——

Like the Labour Party.

——when the Minister was being pressed and could not say when he intended to implement it. I do not believe that Senator Hawkins made any contribution whatever in so far as that particular Health Bill is concerned.

Look up the records and you will find out.

Now he is particularly annoyed as to why the Minister is not in a position to put it into operation. I do not know Galway County Council but I can speak for my own county council. It is not a Fine Gael council, neither does Fianna Fáil predominate. It is a Labour council, particularly concerned with the welfare of the poor. Last February when we were preparing our annual estimates we told the county manager that there was no point in putting anything into the estimates for these particular sections because there was no opportunity of operating them. As I pointed out here on the Second Reading, our patients are waiting for weeks on end and cannot get a bed either in Dublin or Wicklow. We have about 30 or 40 beds in the county at the present time. There was no effort made to provide any additional accommodation.

I was on a committee eight years back which selected a site of something like 18 acres to build a county hospital there, and it has been going on since, and I do not see any prospect of it being built except that now under the inter-Party Government some money will be allocated for that hospital. As I pointed out, we of the Labour Party are supporting this Bill. The sole purpose of this Bill is to protect the insured people and poor people who are entitled to free treatment at the present time. For that reason, we are supporting the Bill and opposing the amendment.

I am a member of Roscommon County Council and was one of the people who unanimously passed a resolution that the Health Act should be implemented and that the necessary provision should be made for its implementation on the 1st August. I do not agree with what my colleague said about our hospital accommodation on the Second Stage of this Bill. Since 1941, since our county hospital was erected and staffed, we have had ample accommodation. I never knew a waiting list for patients since 1941. We have the district hospital—I am a constant visitor to it —and out of the 24 beds there are at least 12 vacant. In the county hospital no person has ever been left waiting for a bed. We have made accommodation there for patients from adjoining counties, from Leitrim and parts of Galway.

I come from a mountainy district, a congested area of County Roscommon, where there are 600 or 700 labourers. I welcomed the Act as, from my long experience as a member of the county council and the board of health since 1926, I have had a lot to do with the ills and complaints of the people who worked in the Arigna Mines. Often through not having the medical or health service they should have, I saw many of them become permanent invalids. I have seen many of them go to hospital and I have seen the bills they got for maintenance, people with £2 or £5 valuation, bills for £20 and £30 and I have been making representations for a reduction of those bills—I had pockets full of them —to the county manager. Some of those people were sent to external hospitals, in Dublin and so on, and we saw bills for £40 and £50 coming in, with solicitors' demands and writs, where they were sent as private patients to Dublin hospitals by private practitioners.

I believe this amendment should be passed, so as to allow the Act to operate in a county like Roscommon, where the council is not of all one political Party; the majority does not belong to Fianna Fáil but to those opposed to Fianna Fáil. I never heard any complaint from Senator Meighan or any other member of the council that there would not be hospital accommodation if the Act were put into effect. For that reason, I support the amendment.

It would seem to me, with respect, that if the amendment were passed in its present form there would probably have to be a High Court action to decide in what areas of the country the Act was now in force. The Bill as amended would provide that the Act would be automatically in force if in fact the local authority were in a position to operate it. No one would be able to say whether the local authority could operate it or not, short of a legal decision of the court. It would seem to me that what has been discussed here has been something quite different from the amendment, that is, that the Act should come into force if a local authority asked that it come into force. It appears to me that the amendment is really one that would be impossible in administration and for that reason I would oppose it.

I wish to reiterate everything I said on the last occasion, despite what my colleague Senator Lynch has said. I clearly challenge the Minister here that if he sends down to Roscommon he will find that what I have said is substantially true. We have been told the token sum provided when the Act was coming into force was agreed to, but Senator Lynch knows as well as I do that when the Minister was down in Roscommon and Sligo he was questioned very keenly about the approximate cost, not alone to the councillors of Roscommon but to the ratepayers. That was the burning question.

Senator Lynch said he does not know of anyone being refused admission. I agree that nobody has been delayed for a bed. While I am on my feet, I wish to pay tribute to every member of the doctor's and nursing staff of the Roscommon institutions, and to the dispensary doctors. Despite their best effort—I challenge contradiction on this —has it not occurred on occasions recently that urgent cases had to be put from time to time in beds in the corridors of Roscommon hospital? Does Senator Lynch deny that maternity cases and other cases had to be sent out, probably sent home, to make room for others, before the prescribed time was up for keeping them there? Does Deputy Lynch deny the statement that for want of beds in the county hospital, patients were transferred to the county home from time to time? I would like people to be honest about these things.

If this matter were taken from the arena of politics it would be much better for everyone. I would be glad, even at this late stage, to see the best that is in every Party pulling together and, instead of this hypocrisy, to see the people getting down to realities and trying to do their best, both for the county and for their country. I refuse to withdraw one iota of what I have said on the last occasion. If the Minister doubts any of the statements made, he should go down to Roscommon where he will find that what I said both on the last day and here now is substantially true.

Senator Meighan was one of the people belonging to the majority Party on the county council, when it was proposed to implement the Act and make the financial accommodation for the implementation of the Act on the 1st August. What I have said as regards our hospitals is quite true —and I have a longer acquaintance with the hospitals in Roscommon than Deputy Meighan has, and I was there long before him.

Senator Hawkins stated there was much perturbation amongst people up and down the country about what he called the contrary advice given to the former Minister and the present Minister by the civil servants in the Department. I never heard any of that discontent and I think there is something else troubling the people far more at present in the country. Neither Senator Hawkins nor I—no one, apart from the Ministers themselves—knows what kind of advice was given to the former Minister or to this Minister. Certainly we do not know what questions either Minister asked of his Civil Service advisers. The Senator has no right to assume, and neither have I, that this or that particular question was asked. The responsibility lies with the Minister. If the Minister has to seek advice, the most competent body to give that advice is the National Health Council provided for under the 1953 Act. That is a council on which all who are concerned with the administration of the Act and its implementation are represented. On that council local authorities are represented; so is the medical profession, the nursing profession, chemists, and so on.

It was stated here on the last occasion on which we discussed this measure that, although provision was made for the setting up of the council under the Act, the former Minister had taken his final and irrevocable decision to put the Act into operation prior to appointing a council. We have been told by the present Minister that his predecessor made that decision on 31st March. A few days later the council was appointed. We had it on record that this council on some occasions intimated to the former Minister that, in the opinion of the members of that body, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to implement the Act on August 1st. Finally, they gave the unanimous advice, by way of resolution, to the present Minister to the same effect.

I understand that one of the members of the council, a representative of the local authorities, is the county manager of Galway. Senator Hawkins will correct me if I am wrong in that. If that is so, then I am more than surprised that having been a party to a resolution—I understand the resolution was unanimous—advising the Minister that it was not possible to put the Act into operation on 1st August, the Galway County Council should then have had the approval and consent of the county manager when they passed the resolution to which Senator Hawkins referred.

With regard to the amendment itself, I was struck by the fact that the amendment asks that the sections to which it refers should be put into operation in relation to the area of every local authority in a position to operate the sections. The first question I asked myself in connection with that was who would decide as to whether particular local authorities were in such a position; the Minister answered that question and I agree that the only person who could decide is the person responsible for the health of the country as a whole. Local authorities could not be permitted to decide. If that were permitted, then a reactionary local authority might never put the Act into operation at all. For that reason the Minister must have the power to insist that the Act be put into operation if and when facilities are available.

Senator Hawkins also stated that the local authority in his particular county had made provision for the implementation of the Act over the current year. I understand that the provision made relates only to finance and if Senator Fearon is right in what he says the financial provision made would not go very far towards implementing the Act in full. Apart from financial provisions, however, other provisions have to be made. No matter how much money was available the Act could not be put into operation except by agreement with those who are responsible for the administration of the Act. So far as I am aware, there was no such agreement with the parties concerned either in Galway or anywhere else.

It seems to me that what Senator Hawkins should have done was moved a vote of censure on the Minister because that, in effect, is what his statements here ultimately amount to. The position is that the Minister says there is nothing to prevent him implementing Sections 15, 16 and 17 at the moment. Senator Hawkins says that he does not believe the Minister will implement these sections. Roughly, that is the position and we have to make up our minds as to whether or not the Minister deserves our support in relation to what he has told us here this afternoon.

He has told us he has investigated the matter and is of the opinion that the Act cannot be implemented. He has given us the facts and the figures. He has told us the hospitals are not ready. When I saw the amendment first I had a tremendous amount of sympathy with it because I thought that some local bodies might find it possible to implement the Act. Now that we have debated the matter, I know that Galway Central Hospital is in such a position that patients have to sleep in camp beds and for that reason I cannot see how the Act could be implemented until such time as proper accommodation is made available. The position is that some people will not believe the Minister, and others will. We must accept that the Minister knows what he is talking about; he, as was his predecessor during his period of office, is the person responsible.

He is pretty sure of getting the Senator's support anyway.

And rightly so. If a man puts up a good case I will stand behind him. The Minister has put up a good case. He has convinced me that he will implement this Act. He is quite prepared to implement it. The suggestion that he will abandon the Act or sabotage it is an unworthy one. Until a man is proved guilty he is deemed to be innocent. When a man is proved guilty I will agree in condemning him. It is quite obvious that some people have made up their minds that the Minister is making statements over which he cannot stand. But the Minister has said he will implement the Act and I believe he will implement it.

I thought the reference made by Senator Hawkins to the Minister having prepared a set of questions to get a set of answers from his officials and another Minister having prepared another set to get a different set of answers was an unworthy one. I do not believe that civil servants accommodate themselves to Ministers who hold different view points from their predecessors. I think that suggestion was wrong. I do not think any member of this House could suggest that civil servants are influenced by the political Party which happens to be in power. I do not know whether Senator Hawkins meant it or not, but that was the inference I took from his statement. That is why I asked if he knew what the questions were that were asked by the Minister.

A good deal has been said about the health of the people. One cannot assume that all the advocates for keeping our people in poor health are on one side and all those anxious to improve the health of our people on the other side. The Minister is a humane man and I am sure he is as much concerned for the health and welfare of the poor and the sick as anybody else. I suggest that the Minister's statement be accepted as the truth: he will implement the 1953 Health Act as quickly as possible. So soon as suitable accommodation is available, these sections will be put into operation.

Before Senator Hawkins rises, might I ask whether we can agree that Senator Hawkins is now concluding the debate on the amendment? Is that agreed, or are we starting another round? I suggest the House should agree that Senator Hawkins is concluding on the amendment.

Others of us may like to speak yet.

This is the fourth round started by Senator Hawkins on this amendment.

One never knows what we might score.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The House is in Committee and members are free to speak as often as they like.

I am aware of that, but could it be agreed that Senator Hawkins is now concluding on the amendment?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is a matter for the House. Is there agreement that Senator Hawkins will conclude the discussion on this particular amendment?

I do not wish to conclude. This is too important an issue to conclude at this stage.

Do other Senators desire to speak after Senator Hawkins? We have been doing this constantly. Could we not do it again now? Could we not find out whether this will ever conclude?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Let us hear Senator Hawkins.

If we have no agreement, would the Chair accept a motion from me that the question be now put?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Hawkins.

You are not accepting the motion that the question be now put?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

So long as the House is in Committee I must safeguard the rights of Senators.

Am I to understand that when the House is in Committee you would not accept such a motion from anyone?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Not until it is clear to the Chair that the matter has been sufficiently debated.

I am asking you the question and you are refusing to accept that motion now?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

At the moment.

Senator O'Connell has raised a point that I thought I cleared up on the Second Reading on the last day and that is in connection with this Health Council. I think we explained on the Second Reading that the Minister first approached the chairman and asked him to call a meeting. The chairman apologised for the short time given to the members to assemble and then made a very definite and emphatic statement, which Senator O'Connell and those sitting on the Labour benches would do well to bear in mind. The consideration that influenced the members of this body more than anything else, even more than the position that the Minister put before them was the fact that the chairman of the committee, Mr. Breen, informed the members that the Labour Party in the Dáil, who had supported the Health Bill-reluctantly supported because it did not go far enough—were now prepared to give their support to the Bill we have before us. The Labour Party gave their support in the Dáil, as they are prepared to give here this evening, to putting into abeyance the Act that they helped to pass through the Dáil in October, 1953, despite the fact that the question of having agreement with the doctors, and the question of hospitalisation——

What has this got to do with the amendment?

All these questions were then before them. Senator O'Connell also raised a question in regard to the Galway county manager. The Galway county manager is a member of the Health Council. I do not want to detain the Seanad unduly, but if the Senator wishes, I will read for him a verbatim report of that particular meeting. As regards the answer given by the Galway county manager in reply to the question put to him, there is no implication in that, any more than there is in the suggestion that Senator O'Connell attempted to put over to-day that because I raised the question—a question canvassed all over the country—as to how it came about that advice could be tendered by the officials of the Department of Health to (a) Minister in reply to (a) question and an entirely different answer given to (b) question when it was put by (b) Minister, the same can be said in regard to the question and answer vis-a-vis the presence of the Galway county manager at that particular meeting.

The Minister puts before us the case that he has the authority to implement this particular Act, that he is the person who must decide when it is going to operate in any particular county. He informed us he has the authority that I want to give him in my amendment. But when is that going to be put into operation? In my amendment I am only making one very simple request, that is, that those health authorities who are themselves in a position and who the Minister is satisfied after consultation with the local authority, are in a position to put into effect the provisions of the 1953 Act, should be given the green light to go ahead and do so. If we are not prepared to do that and if, in particular, the members of the Labour Party sitting opposite are not prepared to support this amendment of mine I can say very definitely that as far as the implementation of the Health Act of 1953 is concerned, it is put into abeyance until after the general election.

Listening to Senator Hawkins as I sat on these benches I found that the Health Council, the higher officials in the Civil Service, the Minister——

And the Labour Party.

——have been called into question as far as their honesty and integrity are concerned. I take great exception to remarks of that kind being made. I took the trouble during the week-end to find out the names of the people on the Health Council and I am quite satisfied there are men and women on that council whose integrity cannot be questioned.

There is no question of the integrity or honesty of any member.

That was the implication of the Senator's speech. That is not the way to approach this matter and I want to tell Senator Hawkins that as far as the Labour Party is concerned we will conduct our own business without his advice.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Will the Senator now come to the matter under discussion?

I think it is about time we did, having listened to the speeches of some of the Senators. As the Minister has said, there is no intention of abandoning the Act. We should face this matter in a more realistic and honest manner. We all know the conditions which exist in the different areas and how difficult it is to get people into hospitals. Even the last Minister when he was challenged in the Seanad would not state definitely the position in regard to accommodation. It is quite evident that the Act cannot be implemented. We want the Minister to be equal to his words and I feel confident that justice will be done to the Act as soon as facilities are available.

I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but the semi-totalitarian methods adopted by Senator Hayes have induced me to put forward what I believe to be the important issues that come before us in connection with this amendment and in connection with the Bill which it seeks to amend. In the Bill we are delegating power to the Minister which I think Parliament should reserve to itself, and that is a very important issue. In the original Health Bill the Minister's powers were restricted inasmuch as once he brought the Act into operation he could not prevent it from continuing to operate. Now, in this Bill it is sought to extend the Minister's powers so as to enable him to a great extent to nullify the operation of an Act which had been passed by the Oireachtas. That is a challenge to the Oireachtas and this House should seek to defend the authority of Parliament against the Executive.

In this amendment we are seeking, to a limited extent, to prevent the Minister from wielding the unlimited power he is asking for. We are seeking to ensure that, as far as the local authorities are concerned, they will be enabled to bring the Act into operation if and when they think fit—when they think they will have the necessary facilities. That, I think, is a very important additional power to give to the local authorities. At present, most people are talking in terms of giving the local authorities additional powers, with, at the same time, a restriction on, or a curbing of, the power of Ministers. In my opinion the elected public representatives of any county are well qualified to decide whether or not they can operate the Health Act. They are fully qualified to advise as to whether or not they have the facilities available. The members of local authorities are not ignoramuses. They are men who are giving their time freely to the service of the people and as well, of course, they are advised by the county managers and competent county officials. Therefore, if they think they can operate the Act for the benefit of the people, and their only interest is the welfare of the people, it is right and proper that they should be allowed to do so.

There is no question, of course, of acting to the detriment of any section of the people who already enjoy full health services. What is embodied in the Act is not so much a question of bringing a new type of patient into the hospitals, thus creating an obligation to increase the facilities available, as of being just and fair to a number of the poorer types of patients who have to come in: that is, people in the lower income groups, people who cannot at the moment qualify under the Public Assistance Acts and at the same time cannot afford to pay any particular charge that may be imposed on them. It is not entirely a question of accommodation.

This Act does more than bring in additional numbers of new patients. It relieves the hardship which at present rests on the shoulders of the poorer sections of the community and on their relatives. I think, by reason of the fact that the local representatives who live amongst the people and are aware of the hardships and grievances they are enduring, they are well qualified to advise as to whether the Act should be put into operation or not.

Senator Meighan and other Senators who are members of local authorities have pointed out that representations are frequently being made to members of local authorities to intervene so as to secure relief from the charges imposed on people such as small farmers and those with low incomes. The local representatives know that those people are not in a position to pay. That is so in many counties, and those local representatives are anxious to relieve that hardship. There are many people who, while they may not have been enthusiastic about the Health Act when it was originally introduced, now feel, in view of its enactment and the fact that people, particularly in the lower income groups, have been looking forward to its implementation as a measure of relief for them, that it should be brought into operation. There are many people who, week after week, have been putting off availing of hospital and specialist services because they have been hoping that the Act will come into operation. Therefore, I think that most fairminded people will agree that no undue time should be lost in putting the Act into operation generally throughout the country, and that, in cases where the services are available, the Act should be put into operation immediately.

I was rather surprised to see Senator Fearon widen the basis of the discussion on this amendment very considerably by claiming that his entire objection to it was on the basis of the cost. He spoke of the excessive cost of the health services in the Six Counties, and put a strong case against the amendment on the grounds that it would involve the various counties affected in very substantial additional costs. I think that, in this matter, the counties know their own business best. I think that they can decide, as they would be allowed to decide under this amendment, whether they would bring the Act into operation or not. Most counties have made provision in their estimates for the implementation of the Act and by so doing have, as it were, entered into a contract with the patients in their various counties to give them the hospital and other medical services for which the Act has made provision. They have levied on the ratepayers of their counties a certain charge for the implementation of the Health Act. They have collected that amount of revenue from the ratepayers and, naturally, they feel that they are morally bound to provide the services for which they have made those charges.

I agree with Senator McCrea that there is a great deal of need for additional hospital accommodation in the County of Wicklow, where he is a member of the county council, and in Carlow where I am a member of the local authority. Already both counties have big building projects under consideration. I should say that a great deal of work has been done in that direction in both counties, particularly in County Wicklow where, at Baltin-glass, a splendid new hospital is in course of completion. I think the point which Senator McCrea made was that he feared Wicklow was not in a position to avail of the Act. As far as this amendment is concerned, there is no obligation on County Wicklow to adopt it, but if the amendment is carried, any county which feels that it can implement the Act will have the right to do so. That is what the amendment means. Therefore, I think that the amendment ought to be accepted. I am making this case especially on the ground that it is bad legislation to give a Minister power which, I feel, he is not justified in having.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 17; Níl, 30.

  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Dowdall, Jane.
  • Hartney, Seán.
  • Hawkins, Fred.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Kissane, Éamon.
  • Lynch, Peter T.
  • Ó Buchalla, Liam.
  • O'Callaghan, William.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Pearse, Margaret.
  • Ruane, Thomas.
  • Sheehy Skeffington, Owen L.
  • Smith, Matthew.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Walsh, Louis.

Níl

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Barniville, Henry L.
  • Burke, Denis.
  • Butler, John.
  • Carton, Victor.
  • Cox, Arthur.
  • Crosbie, James.
  • Crowley, Patrick.
  • Davidson, Mary F.
  • Fearon, William R.
  • Guinness, Henry E.
  • Hayes, Michael.
  • Hickey, James.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Lynch, John.
  • McCrea, James J.
  • McGee, James T.
  • McGuire, Edward A.
  • Mannion, John.
  • Meighan, John J.
  • Murphy, Dominick F.
  • O'Connell, Thomas J.
  • O'Donnell, Frank H.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Prendergast, Micheál A.
  • Reidy, James E.
  • Ruane, Seán T.
  • Sheridan, John D.
  • Stanford, William B.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Kissane and T. O'Sullivan; Níl: Senators L'Estrange and S.T. Ruane.
Amendment declared lost.
SECTION 4.

I move amendment No. 2:—

To add to the end of sub-section (2) the words "and shall remain in force until but not later than the 1st day of January, 1955".

The Minister in introducing this Bill asked for time. We were all agreed that a Minister taking over a new Department should have a certain amount of time to make himself acquainted with the working of the Department, and, in particular, in regard to giving effect to a measure of such wide scope as the Health Act, should have reasonable time to go into and examine the effects of putting it into force. In explaining the Bill, the Minister informed us of the procedure he was about to adopt and he first gave an indication that he proposed to implement fully the 1953 Act, despite the fact that he had not very much liking for it.

He also informed us that he proposed to have a consultation with the representatives of the various local authorities and in that connection I should like to have a little more information. As I pointed out on Second Reading, his predecessor had conferences with the local authorities and the difficulty in which the local authorities found themselves at that time was not in regard to the implementation of the Act but in regard to what the Act would cost and what the obligations on the ratepayers would be.

The Minister's Party went around the country suggesting that the cost would be something that would not be worth the services to be provided. We have pointed out that, on a valuation of £20—a fairly high valuation, particularly in the West of Ireland—it would be a matter of only £2 per year and that, when the contribution made under the agricultural grant was subtracted, it would be in the region of only 16/-, which would provide the specialised and various other facilities made available under the 1953 Act. Senators will agree that if one were taking out an insurance policy with any of the commercial insurance organisations, the contribution would be much more than that for the provision of these services.

The Minister's second argument was that we had not the facilities, the hospital accommodation. We on this side dispute that. We hold that there will not be more people getting sick or more babies being born on 1st August, 1954, than there were on 1st August, 1953. Accommodation was found for all these people and is being found at present. There has been an attempt made by speakers on the other side to convey the idea that we suggested that there should be some coercion of the people in a position to give these services, that we wanted to coerce the doctors, the nurses, the dentists and all the other people into an acceptance of an Act of Parliament. There is no such thing in our minds. We have made it quite plain that we have provided a great number of facilities in the form of additional beds and other facilities. We have given every encouragement to the various professional organisations to develop themselves in the best way they can and to make their demands as successfully as can any trade union organisation, but the Minister has based his argument on the plea that, if the regulations made by a former Minister were given effect to on 1st August, we would have a position in which the health authorities could not cater for the demands made on them.

The Minister did not dwell very long on the most important aspect of this problem. The most important to my mind is the acceptance that should be made by the members of the I.M.A. of provisions enacted by an Irish Parliament to cater for the people.

In reply to the Second Reading debate, the Minister referred to a police State. He posed the question to me, did I suggest that we should have a police State in regard to the medical profession? I do not suggest anything of the kind. I maintain very strongly that, when an Irish Parliament passes an Act such as the Health Act that is so vital to the interests of a large number of our people, the Act should as far as possible be put into effect, despite any opposition that might be organised by any highly organised group of people.

I am not expressing my own views in this regard. I am sure the Minister's attention has been drawn to a very important statement that has been issued in the last few days by many people in high authority. That statement is that in democratic institutions and to safeguard these institutions we should be very careful that no highly organised group, no matter how powerful they might be, should override the authority of the National Assembly. There is no doubt that in the case before us to-day there is accomplished that very fact. An Irish Parliament has passed a public health Bill which has been received by the people. Many of our people have looked to that Bill as a relief to themselves. Many of our young people who have taken out medical degrees have looked to it as a means of livelihood in their own country and as an opportunity to them to give to their own people the benefit of their knowledge. That opportunity is now being denied to them because of the fact that we have a Party who, when the 1953 Bill was going through the Dáil, vigorously opposed it and we have in charge of the Department of Health at the present time a Minister who came into the Dáil and who came before us here and proclaimed his dislike and his disbelief of this particular Bill and who, despite that disbelief and dislike, told us, on the other hand, that he was going to give full effect to it.

As I have said, we on this side of the House recognise that a Minister coming into a Department cannot have the same knowledge of the Act as the man who piloted the Bill through Parliament. We are prepared to go so far as to give him from now until the 1st January and to say then "Implement the Bill that you have accepted as being necessary." The representatives of the medical profession in this House have said it was necessary. Senator Barniville and the former Senator Cunningham have said so. They are people whose views we cannot pass over as lightly as we would those of some of those people who are referred to as having no knowledge of public health. They are people who have devoted their lives to public health and they have stated in this House that a Public Health Bill is necessary.

The Minister now states that he is accepting all the provisions of the 1953 Act. We are prepared to give him time. We are prepared to name a date. The naming of the date does not confine him. As far as I am concerned, I would be prepared to say that if the Minister, having examined the situation as it then exists on 1st January, finds that he is not in the position to put into full effects the terms of the 1953 Health Act, all we ask is that he would come before us then and explain his difficulties, the difficulties that he has not by that time overcome, whether they are difficulties in providing hospital accommodation, difficulties in overcoming the opposition of the medical profession, difficulties of any kind. If he comes before this House or the Dáil, he can rely on my support; we will be wholeheartedly with him in making every endeavour to help him out of his difficulties. We would like to think, and I am sure the people who sit with the Minister and who are earnestly interested in the question of public health would like to think, that our small farmers, our self-employed people and the people whom we want to keep on the land would be catered for.

The report of the Commission on Emigration has been published. It deals,inter alia, with the flight from the land. To pass the Bill that is before us now would be another step towards encouraging the self-employed person in rural Ireland, the small farmer and other people, to seek insurable employment in the towns and cities where they will get the facilities that would be provided under the Health Act, 1953. For that, if for no other reason, I would appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment. We are not making it obligatory on the Minister to put every section of the Act into operation. If on 1st January, 1955, he finds there are difficulties in his way, I am sure both Houses will be generous in meeting him and in encouraging him to do the things we would all like to do. We will be wholeheartedly with him. On the other hand, if the Minister rejects this proposal and states emphatically that he is not prepared to name a date, that he wants to get his own time, having regard to what I have already stated about the approach of the Minister and his Party to the question of public health and of social security in general, we must be very doubtful. For my part—and I am sure I am speaking for the Senators who sit with me—we would not be prepared to accept that statement.

When I read Senator Hawkins' amendment I realised that there was really only one essential difference between his amendment and mine, that is, the question of the amount of time placed at the disposal of the Minister. In effect, it means that if Senator Hawkins' amendment is passed the Minister is given until 1st January next to implement the Act or else to come back and explain why it is not possible. Under amendment No. 3, which is in my name, he would be given 12 months. Sub-section (2) of Section 4, which is the sub-section to be amended, reads:—

"This Act shall come into operation on such day as the Minister for Health appoints by Order."

To that I should like to add, as I now propose in amendment No. 3:—

"and shall continue in force for a period of 12 months from the date of the making of such Order."

On the Second Stage, I appealed to the Minister to give us, not a definite date—I can see the difficulties involved in that—but some idea of an approximate date, to say whether he thought the Act could be brought into operation in three months, six months or a year. The Minister told us—and he gave quite good reasons—that he did not think it would be possible for him to reach a decision as to which of these periods of time might prove necessary. There could be, he suggested, unforeseeable events, events that might prove more difficult than could be anticipated and so on. The Minister made it clear that he did not want an indefinite postponement of the Health Act. He made it clear that the Government and the supporters of the Government did not want an indefinite postponement.

Now, it seemed to me that in all the circumstances—I do not want to go over all the ground again—a maximum period of a year, in the light of our present knowledge of the difficulties with which the Minister may be faced, was not unreasonable and it was for that purpose I put down this amendment. I do realise, of course, that there may possibly be unforeseeable difficulties in the application of one section or another, but, should those arise in the course of the coming year and prevent the Minister and the Government from fully implementing the Act, as they now tell us they would like to, if this amendment is passed the Minister would be under an obligation to the Dáil and the Seanad to come back and explain to Parliament just what were these difficulties, at the present moment unforeseen. Again it seems to me reasonable to ask the Minister to do that, because there is an important principle involved.

We are all aware that, in order that the country may be run at all under the parliamentary process, Parliament must delegate power to the Government, the Government must delegate power to Ministers and so on downwards. No Minister asks that absolute power be delegated to him, and I suggest that no Government and no Minister wants power to be delegated to them for an indefinite period. It is for that reason, it seems to me, that the Minister ought to accept an amendment that if at the end of the year he has not succeeded in fully implementing the Act, as we know he wants to, he should then come back to us and tell us what were the difficulties he met.

In effect, by passing this Bill this House will be divesting itself of certain powers now vested in it. I submit that nobody wants to see Parliament, even on a single issue, divest itself of powers indefinitely, with no time limit, not so much as an approximate date, mentioned. Therefore, it seems to me that such an amendment as this will ensure one thing in relation to that principle, and that is that the Minister will have to come back and explain to us why it has proved impossible to implement the Act within the year, if that should prove to be the case. It is quite clear —and I think Senator Hawkins has made it clear—that if his explanations are good and adequate at that time, he will, of course, get extended time from Parliament. I do not think that either House is unreasonable in that regard, but it would seem to me healthier and more in the best parliamentary tradition to ask the Minister to come back at the end of a year and tell us how he has been getting on, and whether he requires the time to be extended.

It is fairly obvious that if the second amendment is passed the Minister would have to come back before the 1st January next, and then my amendment falls by the board. If, on the other hand, the second amendment is rejected, and if Senators feel that it is not quite fair to insist that the new Minister should be expected to deal with all this in the coming five months, then I would put it very strongly to the Seanad that they should pass amendment No. 3 which gives a life of 12 months to this Bill, and which merely means that at the end of 12 months, if the Minister still requires extended time, he will have to come back and tell us his reasons. I would suggest that there is not a single Senator present who is prepared to say that, if the Minister is not able to implement the Act at the end of that period, we do not want him to come back and tell us why. Therefore I am assuming that should amendment No. 2 be rejected, amendment No. 3 will be passed unanimously. The distinction between accepting and rejecting the amendment is the distinction between giving the Minister in this regard power to postpone the Act for a limited time and power to postpone the Act indefinitely. Supporters and members of the Labour Party, and other supporters of the Government, have made it abundantly clear that they do not favour an indefinite postponement. Therefore, I assume that they, and indeed members of the Government Party and the Minister himself, will accept this amendment as a reasonable one.

In order to expedite the business before the House I should like to withdraw my amendment in favour of that proposed by Senator Sheehy Skeffington. That, too, will give the Minister more time to consider the question.

Amendment No. 2, by leave, with drawn.

This may be the last time that I shall be discussing these matters in this House but, even at this late hour, I do appeal to Senators not to use the phrase that Senator Sheehy Skeffington has just used. This Bill does not postpone in any way the services provided under the Health Act, 1953. It is not a postponing measure. It is a supplementary Bill to the Health Act of 1953 and it does one thing and one thing only. It amends Section 22 of the Health Act, 1953, which is the regulation-making section. It amends it in the terms of Section 2 of the Bill, a section already passed, by providing that "regulations under Section 22 may, in particular, provide for services being made available for a particular class of persons only (including, as respects Sections 15 and 16 of this Act, a class which is a sub-class of any of the classes mentioned in sub-section (2) of Section 15)." That is the amendment of the Health Act of 1953 contained in this Bill.

There follows, by reason of that amendment, a power given to the Minister to remove a charge for a period laid down in the sections we have discussed already, Sections 15 and 25 of the Health Act, 1953, but the purpose of the Bill is to extend the regulating power of the Minister. It goes no further than that; that is as far as it goes. Apply the sense of the Bill to the amendments which are now proposed. It is suggested that what is in effect a permanent amendment of the Health Act should become a temporary amendment and that something which this Parliament incorporates into the Health Act, 1953, shall stay there six months or 12 months and then disappear. I do not think that is a useful way of legislating. I do not think it would lead to any real progress being made. Again, I understand the intention behind the amendments. The intention behind the amendments is to appeal to me as Minister by my regulations to apply as quickly as possible or within 12 months or five months the services under the Act to all the persons mentioned in Section 15. I will discuss the amendment now from that point of view.

To apply the services to all the persons set out in Section 15 I feel that certain conditions must obtain. I will not go over the question of accommodation. We have thrashed that out from time to time in the debate but, in addition, under the Act, it is necessary that someone will apply the services under the Health Act. The Health Act of 1953 imposed no compulsion on anyone except on the health authorities. It was not an Act which armed the Minister for Health with powers to drive people to do things they did not agree to do. There may be some Senators who think that those powers should be there but they are not. The Health Act of 1953 imposes only one obligation and that is on a health authority to provide health services.

If the people who can provide those services say to the health authorities: "We will not do it," there is no power given to the Minister to compel them to do it. It is no good for the House to expect me to go out into a field and cry to heaven for help if I cannot get it. It is no good for the House to expect me to stalk around the place in jackboots if I have not the power to compel people to do things. The only way the services can be provided—it may not be glamorous but it is useful— is the simple road of seeking agreement. That is the road that this House which passed the Health Act of 1953 set down as the path to be followed by the country's Minister for Health. That is the road I intend to travel.

For the past week I have seen representatives of two different nursing interests. I have met the chemists, the I.M.A. the ophthalmic opticians and the dentists. I am at the moment discussing with all these bodies the manner in which agreed services can be provided under the Health Act. I realise that in the work to seek that agreement I will require certain time. I will also require the goodwill of the bodies I meet. It takes two people to make a fight. It takes two sides of a House to make a debate. It takes two people also to reach agreement. If any of the bodies to whom I have to look for co-operation do not wish to co-operate with me the services cannot be provided.

In the discussions I am now having, or will have, with the bodies I mentioned I do not think my position would be strengthened if I were given a time limit against which I must negotiate. I do not think people who seriously require to see these services in operation would arm their agent with a time limit which would restrict substantially the manner in which I could seek agreement. If I were put in a position that a deadline would operate against me in the discussions that I would have, then I fear that a harmonious conclusion to those discussions might be made difficult, if not impossible. For that reason I am opposed to any suggestion that a time limit should be placed on the regulating powers given by this Bill.

I think that Senators who sincerely urge the desirability of seeing these services in operation as quickly as possible will, on reflection, agree that the best course to follow is to say no more about it but enable this discussion to come to an end and enable me to get down to the urgent work of providing better services for the people of this country. To put time limits and try to place restrictions on the Minister for Health may be good from a political point of view but from the point of view of providing the necessary services for the people, it is very, very foolish, and I am afraid it would not achieve the desired result.

I did not quite follow the Minister's distinction in the beginning suggesting that this amending Bill was not a Bill to postpone, because it seems to me that is precisely what it is. Of course, it does not postpone the entire Health Act, but it postpones the implementation of certain sections thereof which would automatically have to be tackled on 1st August if this amending Bill is not passed. I do not see the distinction I am afraid between postponing, and, in the Minister's phrase, delaying the full implementation of the Act by giving extended regulating power to the Minister. I suggest in quite simple terms that the effect of delaying the full implementation of the Act, or extending the regulating power of the Minister will be, in fact, to postpone full implementation of the Health Act.

The Minister came before us and pleaded reasonably for extended regulating powers which will have the effect I mentioned. We, I think, are equally reasonable in asking: "Extended for how long?" The Minister replies in effect "indefinitely". The Minister suggested that he did not want to be tied to any date line. I will return to that in a moment. I should just like to take the point that he thinks it is strange that if we pass this amendment, No. 3, the Bill which is his would have merely a temporary existence for a year. That seems to imply that he would like to see this amending legislation made a permanent part of the Health Act. I am not quite sure what effect that would have or what effect that could have. Once the Health Act in regard to the sections involved were fully implemented, it seems to me that this amending Bill would become a dead letter—immediately the Minister had carried out the task he has set himself.

The Minister did not mention again in detail—quite rightly, I think—the problems of bed accommodation, of negotiating with the staffs, with the doctors, with the boards of voluntary hospitals, nurses, chemists and so forth. I would not belittle his task. I am quite aware that the Minister will have quite a lot of strenuous negotiation to carry out. The Minister went on to say that the Health Act does not empower him to drive any of these people, to compel them. The whole House is with the Minister on that. Nobody wants to compel: it would be folly to imagine that you can compel a good and useful service from these people.

All we are asking is that the Minister will tell us, should he fail in these negotiations, why he has failed. We are not asking him to take a whip to any section of the community. We realise that he can but try; and personally I believe he will try and that he will probably do well in these negotiations. If he fails in these negotiations over a year—I am quite sure he will tackle them at once: he has told us that he has already started—are we, the supporters of this amendment— the whole Seanad I hope—unreasonable in asking him to come back at the end of a year and tell us why he has failed? If we are not to be told that, at the end of the year, it seems to me that we are divesting ourselves of parliamentary power in a rather dangerous way.

I think the Minister exaggerated when he implied that some people wanted him to go out in a field and cry to heaven or go about in jackboots in order to force doctors or compel the implementation of the Health Act. No. Nobody suggests that. The Minister referred himself to "the simple method of agreement". I am wholeheartedly with him there. That is precisely the method that must be employed. Suppose, however, the Minister fails. What convincing reason can he give now for being reluctant to come back in a year's time—having tried this simple method of agreement—what convincing reason can the Minister now give for being reluctant to come back in a year's time to give the members of the Dáil and the Seanad information in regard to his efforts? What objection is there to "seeking agreement"—his own method—with Dáil and Seanad at that point—a year later so that they will give him extended time to embark further on his method of negotiation by simple agreement? The Minister suggested that the best thing we can do is to say no more about it.

I suggest that this amendment means we are prepared to say no more about it for a year. I do not think the Minister is reasonable in suggesting that we should say no more about it indefinitely, even if, for excellent reasons, which he will not be prepared to tell us, he fails indefinitely. For that reason, I think all of those who want a practical and common-sense approach to this problem will agree with this amendment, accept it and give the Minister full power to attempt every method that he thinks suitable to reach agreement over the period of a year and to report back to us in a year's time on how he has got on.

I am in the odd position that I came here to speak in support of the second amendment, which has been withdrawn. The next best thing, I think, is the third amendment. I am in favour of a time limit for a particular reason. I do not make any claim to special medical knowledge or to technical knowledge on this point. I am in the position, for example, that if Senator ffrench-O'Carroll says there are 2,000 beds available in St. Kevin's Hospital and the Minister says there are 500, I assume the matter can be settled by counting the number of available beds there—but I wish they would count them together.

I have tried to look on this matter from the point of view of my own constituents, so far as I am able to determine their opinions. There seem to be divided opinions, even among the doctors. You will hear one opinion from a Dublin doctor and another opinion from a dispensary doctor in the country. I take it that this difference of opinion is typical of differences of opinion between different graduates. There are, however, two points on which most of them seem to be agreed and which I think it might be helpful to mention for the benefit of those Senators still in the process of making up their minds about this amendment. The first is that there is a general desire that improved health services should be put within the reach of all. Quite a number of graduates, particularly young graduates, are under £600 a year and they desire the Act as it stands. Many others are above that line but not far enough above it— especially when they have large families—to afford proper medical attention. The incidence of income-tax falls heavily upon this group. When they have to contend with two income-tax demands each year, the expenses involved in the birth of a child, serious illness of the father or of the mother or the cumulative costs of children's illnesses, the burden is more than they can bear. They need help and they need it soon.

The second point is that there is a general dislike of the way in which the health problem has been bedevilled by Party politics. They hope that the question will be lifted out of the sphere of Party politics and into the national sphere—and they hope that that will be done soon. In both cases, there is a good degree of urgency. That is why I was in favour of the shorter time.

It seems to me from what I have heard, and I have tried to keep as open a mind as possible on it, that there are two solutions to the whole problem: (1) the present Act, supported by all Parties except Fine Gael and (2) the solution implied by the Minister when he speaks of reviewing the whole position so as—I am quoting his words now —"...to produce a system which will end for our generation the controversy which, unfortunately, has for so long surrounded health legislation and health services."

The Minister may propose a system of voluntary or of compulsory medical insurance. However, he implied an alternative solution. I do not claim to know the proper solution. It may, indeed, lie in a mixture of both—in the operation of the present Act for those under £600 per annum and in some form of voluntary medical insurance for those over it. However, I believe and know that no permanent solution on a purely Party basis is likely.

The postponement of the detailed operation of the present Act for a few months or a year would be worthwhile if the Minister would then move for an all-Party committee composed of members of the Dáil and Seanad to work together for an agreed solution. I am not familiar with the exact mechanism required but I suggest that something on the lines of an American Congressional Committee is possible and desirable. There have been bitter divisions between Parties and between individuals on health matters in recent times. I see that, on the whole, people are impatient with these divisions in this matter as in so many others. They are awaiting that co-operation along which path our national progress seems to lie. I should be proud to be a member of the Seanad which initiated some action in that connection. Therefore, I believe some postponement is necessary. Because the matter nevertheless is still urgent, and because postponement for a year, while still preserving the sense of urgency, gives a better chance to lift the health problem out of the Party politics which have bedevilled it to the damage of our country, I would support the amendment.

I am glad that the last speaker has brought this debate down to realities, and particularly to realities as they affect the people directly concerned. He spoke of the people of under £600 income, to whom the whole question of health is a very important problem when they have to meet a situation in which some members of their families or themselves are ill, with all the expenses and hardship that that involves. We understand this problem. From my point of view as a person living in rural Ireland I know it as it affects another section of the community, the small farmers, people of under £50 valuation. These people are not poor—nobody pretends that—but on the other hand they are not the wealthy people that somebody in this House has suggested. Somebody suggested that they make an income of £3,000 a year. I think that suggestion was made by a Deputy or a Senator who lives quite close to the Border.

As far as I know the ordinary farmers, a very true or reasonable index of the income of the farmer who is under £50 valuation was given by the present Minister for Agriculture when he said that he could make an income of £10 per acre out of his land. £10 per £ valuation is an income of £500 on a £50 valuation. That is not a very high income. If you bring it down to the £30 acre farm it is an income of £300. On that a family has difficulty in meeting the ordinary day to day needs, and particular difficulty in meeting the exceptional needs that arise in case of serious illness. For that reason it is essential that we should seriously consider particularly the position of people with incomes of under £300 a year and perhaps even much less in the case of small farmers with valuations of £5 and £10. Those are the people with very limited and modest incomes. If we tried to meet them in a fair way we should be anxious to see that the Health Act is implemented as soon as possible. It guarantees to them not a completely free health service but at least that a very substantial portion of the cost will be borne by the State and that as far as surgical and specialist treatment is concerned they will be completely relieved.

The advantage of a time limit is that it ensures the supremacy of Parliament over the Executive. That is something which all Parliaments fought for, which all democratic Assemblies fought for. At other times when other Governments were in power here we had frequent references to government by regulation as against government by the Oireachtas. I think that even the Minister himself took part in those deliberations and strongly emphasised the evil of transferring from Parliament to the Minister legislative power. That is exactly what is being done under this amendment.

Does the Senator realise that that is already in the Act?

I know, but, as the Minister stated very definitely here a few minutes ago, through this Bill he will extend his power in the making of regulations. The Bill extends it to such an extent that he can completely nullify the three most important sections of the Act and completely withdraw benefits of the Act from three very important sections of the community. That, I think, is power which Parliament ought not to entrust to the Government or to a particular Minister.

Again, on the question of a time limit, we read a good deal as far as international affairs are concerned about prolonged negotiations between nations, and we have had recent experience in world affairs of where the introduction of a time limit helped to bring negotiations to a conclusion. I am not expressing any opinion on the value of that agreement, but I do know that the suggestion of a time limit has again been raised in international affairs, so I think it is desirable even from the Minister's point of view, if he was sincerely desirous of bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion, that he should have a certain time limit and be able to say to those with whom he was negotiating that after a certain date power would be taken out of his hands and would go back to Parliament. If the Minister was unfairly treated by those with whom he was negotiating, I think the Oireachtas would stand behind him and ensure that his point of view, if it was fair and reasonable, would be carried into effect.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am putting the question that the amendment be inserted in the Bill.

Before you put that question to a vote, could I ask the Minister a question? If this amendment is passed would this not mean holding up the Bill until the Dáil reassembles next October? If this House was to effect a change in the Bill would it not be a wise thing to consider that fact?

The answer to that question is quite clear—that if the House passes the amendment the Dáil would have to be recalled to consider its own attitude about the matter.

I would put it this way, that this House is master of its own business——

We have here a reasonable proposition put to the Minister, and the question whether the other House has to be called together or not should not enter into the discussion, and should not be introduced as an inducement to people to vote for or against this amendment.

As I am on my feet I should like to say this, that it was suggested during the course of the debate that it would not be wise to have every year a discussion on a particular Bill of this kind. This is not the first measure on which we have had such discussions. We have had from 1922 to this year a Military Service Bill, a very important measure which came up annually and gave an opportunity to the members of this and the other House to express their views in relation to the Defence Forces of the country. We have also Housing Bills, and the longest in duration which I remember was for a period of five years. The present Housing Bill, as we understand it, expires next March. That does not mean that the provisions under these various Bills are going to cease on a particular date. On each of these occasions the Minister comes before the House and asks it for any new suggestions or amendment to what is in the Bill. That is all that the amendment before the House is asking, that if the Minister is in a particular difficulty he should come back and tell the House. I would like to say this, that in his reply to this particular amendment the Minister has transferred his ground from that of facilities to that of the difficulty of entering into agreement with the various people who must operate the Act.

He passed over the question of hospital accommodation and said that we had already discussed that very elaborately. Then he pointed out the difficulties of getting agreement with the doctors, the nurses, the dentists and other people. One of the greatest supports he can have to conclude any negotiations with those people is the fact that he is compelled by legislation to come before Parliament at the end of 12 months and explain here, and through Parliament to the people, what his difficulties are, where he has found it impossible to get these people to work the Act as passed by Parliament and whether he must seek other means.

I am as convinced now as I was the first day we dealt with the 1953 Act, that there are other means there. If the I.M.A. wish to withhold their consent or their contribution to the implementation of this Act, we have other means and other people, equally qualified, who are prepared to operate and give full effect to it.

On a point of order, the I.M.A. are in conscience bound to work an Act passed by the majority of both Houses.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

That is a point of explanation rather than a point of order.

I am very glad that Senator Barniville has made such a very useful interjection and has conveyed to his colleagues in the medical profession their responsibilities in this matter. That pronouncement has come from a more responsible person in the last week or two than Senator Barniville or any other member of this House—that those people who can classify themselves in any group, profession or trade union have a responsibility to the community in general and that it is immoral for them to withhold their services to the community where that service is needful for the benefit of the community in general. That is what is entailed in this Health Act and that is the reason why we are anxious to see the Act implemented.

We are prepared to give every co-operation and assistance to the Minister. We feel he had an opportunity of doing something that probably no one else could have done. This question of public health has been drawn very much into politics and the political Party to which he belongs has taken a certain view on the matter. Therefore he was in a position to give more effect to the implementation of the Act than any other Minister possibly could give to it.

Mr. Crowley rose.

Can the question be put?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am afraid there was not agreement on that point. There were certain Senators who intimated their desire to speak and the Chair must accommodate them.

I intend to support this amendment because I believe it is a perfectly reasonable one. I stated here on the Second Reading that I believed the Minister was quite entitled to ask for and receive the respite that the Bill affords him. I suggested he could with advantage utilise that respite to review in some detail the whole pattern of the health legislation of the country. It might have been unreasonable to insist on specifying such a proximate date as even the 1st January next as the date on which the Minister should report back to the House; but, quite frankly, I cannot see that it is imposing any disability on the Minister, or his Department, to expect him to come back here 12 months hence and inform the House precisely how far he has got with his negotiations with all the interests that have to be consulted, and to let us know when we may expect to see some reasonable code of health services operated for the benefit of the people. After all, we are here to legislate for the benefit of the people. In my candid opinion, the amendment in its present form is perfectly reasonable and it is one that I can in conscience support.

It seems to me that the people supporting this amendment desire to put the Health Act into operation as quickly as possible. I would pose this question to them. Supposing the Minister has not concluded the necessary negotiations and got agreement before the date fixed, is it then possible for the Oireachtas to get agreement? If it were possible for the Minister to come back here on that date, saying: "I have failed to get agreement; will you now make the necessary arrangements?" then the amendment is quite a sensible one and the desire behind the people supporting it would be understandable. However, we must face the realities and appreciate that, if we were to fix a time limit, the person at the disadvantage would be the Minister and the Dáil and the Seanad could do nothing to get him out of difficulties at the expiration of the time fixed.

The Senator asks what can the Oireachtas do in a year's time if the Minister has failed. It can do two things—it can give him extended time and it can act as a mirror for public opinion in assessing the reasons why the Minister failed in this year.

Amendment No. 3 put.
The Committee divided: Tá: 19; Níl: 27.

  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Crowley, Patrick.
  • Hartney, Seán.
  • Hawkins, Fred.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Kissane, Éamon.
  • Lynch, Peter T.
  • McHugh, Roger J.
  • O'Callaghan, William.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Pearse, Margaret.
  • Ruane, Thomas.
  • Sheehy Skeffington, Owen L.
  • Sheridan, John D.
  • Smith, Matthew.
  • Stanford, William B.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Walsh, Louis.

Níl

  • Barniville, Henry L.
  • Bergin, Patrick.
  • Burke, Denis.
  • Butler, John.
  • Carton, Victor.
  • Cox, Arthur.
  • Crosbie, James.
  • Davidson, Mary F.
  • Fearon, William R.
  • Guinness, Henry E.
  • O'Donnell, Frank H.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Prendergast, Mícheál A.
  • Reidy, James E.
  • Hayes, Michael.
  • Hickey, James.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Lynch, John.
  • McCrea, James J.
  • McGee, James T.
  • McGuire, Edward A.
  • Meighan, John J.
  • Murphy, Dominick F.
  • O'Connell, Thomas J.
  • Ruane, Seán T.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Tunney, James.
Tellers: Tá: Senators Kissane and T. O'Sullivan; Níl: Senators L'Estrange and S.T. Ruane.
Amendment declared negatived.
Section 4 put and agreed to.
Question—"That the Title be the Title to the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Agreed to take the remaining stages now.
Question—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

On the Second Reading there were at least three questions I put to the Minister and so far we have not had a satisfactory answer to any of the three. I would add to those three just one more. Section 1 of the Bill that we are about to pass puts into abeyance Section 15 of the Health Act, 1953. I would be anxious to know if that refers to sub-section (7) which relates to school inspection and the provision of services rendered as a result of the recommendation of the school inspecting officer. We have on this side of the House tried to improve the Bill as it was presented to us. We do not accept the Minister's assurance that he is prepared to give full effect to the 1953 Health Act having regard to his introductory speech and his closing remarks on the Second Reading. We strove as far as we could to improve and to extend the services. We are attempting to bring into the category of persons who would be entitled to benefits under the Health Act those people who we thought were most in need of it. Many of us on this and the other side of the House know the position of the small farmer, the artisan, the self-employed person and that particular category of persons provided for under the Health Act of 1953.

The Minister, by his majority on the other side of the House, has refused definitely to accept our recommendations. There is nothing we can do at this stage about that except to rely very reluctantly on the promises made by the Minister and not alone the promises made to this House but those that he and the Taoiseach made to the members of the inter-Party group assembled in a particular room in this House when they very emphatically promised members of the Labour Party that full implementation of the 1953 Health Act would eventually take place.

The Minister said he hoped to have a conference with the members of public health authorities. I would like to have at this stage some idea of the type of conference the Minister proposes to hold. We would like to know whether it will consist of the entire body of the various county councils which are now the health authorities or whether it is to be confined to a particular group of the county council as has been suggested by a colleague of his in relation to another measure which is on its way to Parliament. This is very important because of the make-up of the various county councils. I would suggest that if the Minister intends to hold these conferences, if he is going to address them, obtain their views and place any value on the views expressed, it should be a meeting of the entire county council and not of any hand-picked section of the county council.

The last vote we had in this House resulted in the rejection of a proposal that there should be a time limit. We in this House are not in the happy position in which the members of Dáil Éireann find themselves. The members of Dáil Éireann on the Vote for the Department of Health can question what steps have been taken to give effect to this Act as we have passed it. We in this House have not that opportunity and it is regrettable that the Minister did not see fit to accept the proposals we put before him. If he had I think he would have gone a step further in securing the goodwill and the co-operation of all sections of Parliament in giving full effect to this measure.

We fully realise the difficulties that face the Minister. We realise the difficulty in providing the necessary accommodation in many public health authority areas and also in relation to negotiations with bodies such as those with which he has to negotiate in order to make this a workable Act. While recognising all that, we consider that the present approach is not the best one which could have been taken. The Minister should have taken the House into his confidence and if he had done that he could come back to us within a period of, say, 12 months and said frankly to the Seanad and to the Dáil: "I made certain recommendations and I was prepared to go so far. Having been prepared to go so far the other people were not so prepared to go that distance to meet me." Then the people would appreciate the steps that had been taken.

We in this House have no control in matters of this kind unless some member puts down a motion when the Minister is at liberty to come to the House and speak to the motion. The members who thought fit to record their votes against the amendments that were put down to-night have, as it were, deprived themselves of any opportunity to raise this question of public health no matter how much they might like to do so in this Parliament as long as this Parliament exists. Having regard to the manner in which the Minister has failed to meet our demands, having regard to the manner in which he has failed even to answer politely the questions that were put to him I think I should explain that it has been a long standing tradition in this House that no measure is opposed on the Second Stage and because of that fact we did not oppose the Second Reading of this Bill. However, there is very little we can do at this stage except to register our protest against this measure and to record our votes against the final passage of this Bill which we think is a retrograde step to be taken by an Irish Parliament.

First of all, may I say that I was horrified to learn from Senator Hawkins that I have refrained from answering or failed to answer to the best of my ability any questions raised by any member of this House. I certainly endeavoured to do so. The Senator has mentioned the position of Section 15, sub-section (7) of the Health Act. Again, the Senator should be aware, from the fact that he proposed amendments to the Bill, that that particular sub-section and the services provided under it will not be interfered with by the Bill which the Seanad has been discussing. The services envisaged under sub-section (7) of Section 15—that is the inspection of school children and the provision of services to remedy any defects discovered at school inspection —will, I hope, come into operation on the 1st August.

With regard to the question of meeting the representatives of local bodies, I said in my Second Reading speech, and I also stated in the Dáil that I hoped to have regional conferences. I intend to have those as quickly as possible. I do not know whether, in the case of regional conferences, it would be a good thing to have all the councillors there from the different regions concerned, but if it is thought that it would be helpful I certainly will do it. My idea is to have conferences of groups of counties in different parts of the country so that I will be in a position to get informed advice as to the existing facilities in different parts of the country. It certainly would seem to me that it might not be desirable to bring everybody in because, by reason of the large numbers, proper discussion might not take place, but if I interpret the Senator as urging that that should be done, I certainly will have it examined.

Question put.
The Seanad divided: Tá: 29; Níl: 16.

  • Barniville, Henry L.
  • Bergin, Patrick.
  • Burke, Denis.
  • Butler, John.
  • Carton, Victor.
  • Cox, Arthur.
  • Crosbie, James.
  • Crowley, Patrick.
  • Davidson, Mary F.
  • Fearon, William R.
  • Guinness, Henry E.
  • Hayes, Michael.
  • Hickey, James.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Lynch, John.
  • McCrea, James J.
  • McGee, James T.
  • McGuire, Edward A.
  • Meighan, John J.
  • Murphy, Dominick F.
  • O'Connell, Thomas J.
  • O'Donnell, Frank H.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Prendergast, Mícheál A.
  • Reidy, James E.
  • Ruane, Seán T.
  • Stanford, William B.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Tunney, James.

Níl

  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Hartney, Seán.
  • Hawkins, Fred.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Kissane, Éamon.
  • Lynch, Peter T.
  • Ó Buachalla, Liam.
  • O'Callaghan, William.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Pearse, Margaret.
  • Ruane, Thomas.
  • Sheehy Skeffington, Owen L.
  • Smith, Matthew.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Walsh, Louis.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators L'Estrange and S.T. Ruane; Níl: Senators Kissane and T. O'Sullivan.
Question declared carried.