Cement Bill, 1933—Financial Resolution. - Public Hospitals Bill, 1933.—Committee Stage.

the word "hospital" means an institution or organisation in Saorstát Eireann which affords medical, surgical, or dental treatment to human beings, and includes any institution in Saorstát Eireann for the prevention, treatment, or cure of human disease, injury, or deformity and any institution for affording asylum to mentally defective persons, or to expectant mothers, or mothers with their children of less than five years of age, and also includes infirmaries provided by local authorities (whether as parts of county homes or otherwise) for the care and treatment of aged and infirm persons, and also includes institutions for carrying on medical research, but does not include any institution or organisation conducted by persons for their private profit;

I move amendment 1:—

In Section 1, line 47, after the word "persons" to insert the following words "and infirmaries not so provided but to which such persons are sent by any local authority."

The purpose of this amendment is to bring within the definition of a hospital an infirmary provided for the care and treatment of aged and infirm persons who have become eligible for relief and who are maintained at the expense of the local authority. The section, as it stands, covers county home infirmaries, and, where a local authority has entered into an agreement for the reception and maintenance of aged and infirm persons in an extern institution, as has already been done in Cork, I understand, it is proposed to make such extern institution, if it is an infirmary, eligible for grants from sweepstake funds in the same manner as the infirmary of a county home.

Amendment agreed to.

On the section, I should like to put a few questions to the Minister. Section 1 enlarges very much the definition of hospital and it enlarges very much the class of persons or the class of institutions which can benefit by the money which is derived from these sweepstakes. One of the things which is entirely new is that money can be given to an institution for affording asylum to mentally defective persons or to expectant mothers or mothers with their children of less than five years of age.

I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary how many of these institutions are there in existence. I think if there are any, they are very few in number. As I read the section, there is no power to endow a completely new institution out of the Hospitals Fund. It must be an institution which is a going institution before it can make any application to the Minister. I think that is perfectly clear. The word "hospital" means an institution or an organisation which affords medical, surgical or dental treatment, etc. That shows that it is an existing thing which is actually affording such treatment at the moment and no money, in consequence, is available for any new institutions which, it might be throught, ought to be endowed out of the Hospitals Fund. It seems to me that if the Parliamentary Secretary's intention is that a new institution of this nature could be established in any part of the country, that ought to be made clear in the wording of the section—that power ought to be afforded clearly and definitely. I think that power of endowing such a fresh institution does not exist now.

This section has enlarged the number of possible beneficaries, but I notice that while institutions for the care and treatment of aged and infirm persons, expectant mothers and various other classes of that nature can benefit under this Bill, institutions for the blind cannot benefit. I was rather in a hurry with the amendments I put in. I did not know there would be so much time for amendments and I submitted my amendments at the shortest possible notice. I would like to know, if I propose an amendment on the Report Stage enabling some of this money to go to institutions for the blind, will the Minister be prepared to accept it? Further, the money may be given to nursing organisations. That is the existing law. It was pointed out to me a couple of days ago that nurses are not a very well paid body. It is very difficult for a nurse to make any provision for her old age. There is an institution for helping aged and infirm nurses. As nurses are a very necessary part of hospital work, it might be advisable that some grant, not an enormous grant, might be made to an institution which would afford an asylum to nurses during long continued illness or when they are too old to perform the duties of their posts.

As the Deputy knows, previous legislation on sweepstakes granted financial assistance to provide institutional treatment for mentally defective persons. I think there is no departure in the Bill in regard to that class. Under the extended definition of "hospital," all homes catering for the unmarried mother class and children up to five years of age will be entitled to financial assistance. There are three or four such institutions in the Free State at the present time. On the point as to whether it would be possible to provide entirely new institutions, existing bodies can embark on the provision of entirely new institutions. I am so advised that existing bodies can do so. There is a further departure in relation to the infirmary portion of county homes. As the Deputy probably knows, in our county homes there is what used to be the body of the house under the old workhouse system, and also the hospital portion. The hospital portion is now called the infirmary. Many of these infirmaries that are intended to provide accommodation for chronic cases are in a very bad condition. The facilities afforded to these poor old people who have not much prospect of recovering, but who at the same time are under treatment, are very unsatisfactory. So far as the infirmary portions of the county homes are concerned, it is intended to make money available out of the sweepstakes for their improvement.

Institutions for the blind are not included in this definition and I think it would be a matter for consideration. If we could have an amendment proposed on the next stage it might be considered advisable to include such institutions. It is a matter on which I have a very open mind, and I would be glad to give it further consideration. The same to a great extent will apply to nursing institutions. We must bear in mind, however, that the main purpose of the Bill is to provide money for the voluntary hospitals and for the extension and equipment of the county and district hospitals under poor law authorities, and also mental hospitals. If we extend the definition too far there will be, of course, a wider distribution of the moneys at our disposal and there will be the possibility that it will take a considerably longer time to get sufficient funds to carry out the very big scheme of hospital reorganisation that we have in mind.

I think if the Minister reads this carefully he will see "any institution for affording asylum to mentally defective persons, or to expectant mothers" means an institution which is in existence at the present moment. I suggest that this matter should be reconsidered by the Parliamentary draftsman or the law adviser to the Department in order to see if it is perfectly clear. It would necessitate merely a drafting amendment. I gather the Parliamentary Secretary's intention now is that local bodies would be able to establish new infirmaries. I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that in drafting the amendment he would have that matter carefully considered. As far as the blind are concerned, it seems to me that blind persons are just as much in need of public assistance as hospital patients. Blind institutions are institutions which require a certain amount of money and they do a tremendous amount to alleviate the lot of the blind. For instance, there is the question of the library for the blind. That library is a very expensive matter. I welcome the statement from the Parliamentary Secretary that in carrying out this Bill executively his primary consideration will be looking after the original hospitals in the stricter sense of the word, and still if there is any money over, or if there is any money available, I would suggest to him that he would consider the question, and if I bring in an amendment enabling institutions for the poor blind to benefit that he would accept that amendment.

I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether the question of providing pensions for nurses has been pressed on him. Because on previous occasions when bringing in amendments in the case of the previous Hospitals Bills I was pressed very strongly into bringing in an amendment by which pensions would be provided for the hospital nurses. I was very sympathetic indeed towards the proposal. But I pointed out on that occasion that the Bill as originally introduced by me did not contemplate such a provision nor did the Bills subsequently amended pretend to give pensions either. I pointed out to those who came to me what the position was and I said: "If you get an actuarial account saying what the cost of the pensions would be I will do so, otherwise I cannot alter the Bill; but if you bring to me an actuarial statement showing the amount of the money that would be spent on that I will alter it." I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether it has been put up to him on the present occasion to include pensions for nurses in this Bill.

I have had representations from nursing organisations to have provision made on the financial side of the scheme for pensions for nurses. That has been since the amendments to the Bill were circulated.

You are just like I was myself.

Yes, very like the position in which you were placed in that respect. I have not found it possible to agree to have such an amendment inserted. However, if there is any strong feeling in the House on the question, or if it is felt that such an allocation would come within the intentions of the Bill, we can discuss the proposition at a later stage. As I said a few minutes ago, when replying to Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, if the money is made available for all purposes for which there is a demand at the present time, I think the original purpose is bound to suffer as a result. We must draw the line somewhere. So far as the blind are concerned blind persons' schemes are in operation in almost every county in Ireland and requisite facilities are afforded to the blind for the training mentioned by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney; and these schemes are being financed by the local rates. I am not satisfied that adequate provision is not already made. However, if the Deputy can show that adequate provision has not already been made, we can discuss the matter with greater freedom at a later stage.

I know that at the time the Bill was introduced an institution for the relief of the blind did make application to come in within the scope of the Bill and I explained to them that they were not eligible as a hospital, that they were an institution. But this is an institution which, I understand, does good work, and there may be other institutions of a similar nature throughout the country where nobody but blind persons are helped. I think one must have reached a certain age in order to receive a blind pension. I am not talking now of these cases, but I think there is a certain age limit.

Yes, 30 years for State pension.

An institution which receives a blind boy or girl of five or six years of age, trains them up to earn their own livelihood and teaches them to read is, you will admit, a very beneficial thing. It is not curing sickness nor curing an infirmity, but it is doing away with a considerable part of the evil effects which result from such infirmity. All I ask is to have these included. The Minister need not give these institutions anything; this simply enlarges his powers, and if there is no institution that shows it is in need of financial assistance, then he need not give anything. In fairness to the Parliamentary Secretary I must say that since the first application was made to me I have heard nothing since about it.

Section 1 is the part of the Bill where there is a definition of the word "hospital" as an institution which affords medical, surgical or dental treatment to human beings. That would bring all hospitals under the scope of the Bill, whether they are hospitals which have participated in the sweepstakes or have not; they may at any time.

That is merely a definition of "hospital" for the purpose of the Bill. Further on, the Deputy will find in other sections of the Bill the processes required to become entitled to participate in the Sweepstake Fund. The fact that "hospital" is defined as it is in Section 1 does not mean that all hospitals will participate in the funds.

In connection with the Hospital Commission there is another definition. I want to make it quite clear that the management of a hospital which does not participate in a sweepstake shall not be dealt with by the Bill.

That does not arise under this section. But there is an extended definition of hospital. I think it would be possible to make an allocation of the funds to an institution for the care of the blind.

Under which wording? I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary's reading is correct and I have read the section very carefully.

You are not curing the blind. You are only educating them.

You are not treating them for diseases?

As regards blind people it would come under the heading of affording asylum to blind people. The definition as it stands would cover that. When you made a special clause for the mentally defective that should be also understood.

We will look into that.

What about the position of institutions for dealing with the deaf and dumb? With regard to what Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney said in connection with the blind asylums, does it not appear as if the deaf and dumb institutions would be in the same position as the blind asylums also? Then there are institutions for the housing of incurable patients, patients who are likely to live a certain length of time but whom there is no hope of curing. There are institutions, as the Parliamentary Secretary knows, for the accommodation of patients of that kind.

Would they not still be "treated" even though you do not cure them?

Yes, but not in the same way as the deaf and dumb and blind.

The Parliamentary Secretary said the point I was making did not arise on this section. I venture to suggest, with all respect, that it does. This section is one which defines "hospital." Various sections of the Bill deal with the control of hospitals. My point is that it would be quite easy, no doubt, in later sections to make certain that that control is not meant to apply to any hospital, except it participates in the sweepstakes, or applies for grants. It would be much better, as a matter of parliamentary procedure, to make it quite clear, even in the definition, that we are only proposing to deal with hospitals which apply for a grant from the Hospitals Commission. That is why I am raising the point on the definition section, and I venture to suggest that it is here the point does really arise.

As to the point raised by Deputy Davitt about the treatment of the deaf and dumb, I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary should leave no doubt that it can be dealt with. It would partly come under the head of "treatment," but there is this to be borne in mind, that if children are taken at four or five years of age they can be trained and become useful citizens, but if they are left in their home surroundings, and there are no central institutions to deal with them, or the institutions are not well-funded to deal with them, when they are about 12 or 13 they become idiots. There ought to be a definite provision in order to prevent them developing from being merely deaf and dumb at the age of four or five into idiots at the age of 12 or 13. There ought to be a definite provision to enable the Ministry, if it thinks fit, to give help to institutions of that kind. The other point is the one raised by Deputy Thrift. Will the Parliamentary Secretary make it clear that it is not his intention by this Bill to give any control over hospitals which do not apply for a grant? He has said nothing on the matter. I gather that it is his intention not to seek that control and that he will definitely exclude any assumption of it.

That is so. We are not going to interfere with any hospital that is not looking for any money out of the sweepstakes.

That will be made clear in the Bill?

Yes. We will accept that amendment.

Will the point not arise in connection with other sections?

Anywhere is arises.

Section 1, as amended, put and agreed to.
Sections 2 and 3 put and agreed to.
SECTION 4.
(1) The Public Charitable Hospitals Acts, 1930 to 1932, are hereby repealed, but such repeal shall have effect subject and without prejudice to the subsequent provisions of this section.
(2) The Public Charitable Hospitals Acts, 1930 to 1932, shall continue to apply to every sweepstake for which a scheme was sanctioned under those Acts before the passing of this Act but with and subject to the following modifications, that is to say:—
(a) the available surplus within the meaning of Sections 5 and 6 of the Public Charitable Hospitals (Amendment) Act, 1931 (No. 24 of 1931), in every such sweepstake in which a drawing of prizes takes place after the passing of this Act shall (subject to the payment of any duty or tax chargeable in respect thereof) be paid to the National Hospital Trustees and disposed of in accordance with this Act;
(b) so much of the available surplus within the meaning aforesaid in any such sweepstake in which the drawing or all the drawings of prizes has or have taken place before the passing of this Act as has not been lawfully disposed of by the sweepstake committee before such passing shall (subject to the payment of so much of any duty or tax chargeable in respect thereof as remains unpaid at such passing) be paid to the National Hospital Trustees and disposed of in accordance with this Act;
(c) the Minister shall pay to the National Hospital Trustees, to be disposed of in accordance with this Act, so much (if any) of any available surplus within the meaning aforesaid as has been paid to him under the said Acts before the passing of this Act and is not required by him for purposes authorised by those Acts in respect of which arrangements were made before the passing of this Act;
(d) Section 3 of the Public Charitable Hospitals (Amendment) Act, 1931, shall not apply and shall be deemed never to have applied in relation to any sweepstake in respect of which a committee of reference was not appointed under that section before the passing of this Act.

I move:

In sub-section (2), to delete all words after the word "Act," line 23, to the end of the sub-section, line 56.

The effect of this amendment is that this Bill will not apply to any sweepstakes which have been sanctioned and are being held under the existing law. In other words, it makes this Bill not retrospective, as Section 4, in its present form, does make it retrospective. I would press upon the Parliamentary Secretary as strongly as I can the desirability of not making this Bill retrospective. We must bear in mind that there are still the proceeds of three sweepstakes which have not been allocated and that the money now standing there as the result of these three sweepstakes is not the property of the Parliamentary Secretary, or the Department, or the Executive Council, or the State. That money is the property of the participating hospitals to some extent, and to another extent it is the property of local hospitals which were capable or competent to receive portions of it. These are the owners of this money. They are the complete and absolute owners of the money. To put it in a legal phrase that is easily understood, they are tenants in common of the money. The actual shares in which they are to participate are not yet decided. Under the existing Acts, under which sweepstakes are held, schemes were brought forward which were sanctioned by the Minister and had the full force of law, and under these schemes this money was collected and became, as I have said, the property of the hospitals to which I have referred. There was, indeed, a Committee of Reference which was to decide in what shares the participating hospitals were to receive this money as between themselves. The Committee reported to the Minister for Justice and the Minister is not the owner, nor the complete controller of this money. The Minister, under the existing law, is nothing more than an arbitrator deciding in what shares this money is to be divided amongst the hospitals that own it. That is the existing state of affairs.

If this Bill goes through, this money is taken away completely from its present owners. It is confiscated from its present owners and it is placed in an entirely new fund. That is a very bad principle indeed. Retrospective legislation, I think, is to be avoided as much as possible, and retrospective legislation in financial matters, changing the ownership of property, is to be, in my judgment at any rate, avoided under all circumstances. In consequence, I would press upon the Parliamentary Secretary as strongly as I can that it is more than desirable that this Bill should not be in any way made retrospective. Whatever scheme the Parliamentary Secretary may have in his head, it cannot be necessary for the carrying out of this scheme that this Bill should be made retrospective. There are certain hospitals which are entitled to benefit and, as the law stands now, are the owners of the money and should benefit to the extent to which it would be allocated to each one of them. Those hospitals that were participating and benefitting under the last schemes will require all the less benefit under future schemes, they will require all the less money out of the fund which is to be collected by means of future sweepstakes. It would be a very bad principle indeed if this Bill were made in any way retrospective. These Public Hospitals Bills have always been regarded as non-political and non-Party measures. I sincerely hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will regard this Bill in the same light. I can assure him that there is a very strong feeling, both outside and in this House, against making the Bill retrospective, and I would ask him to consider and to respect that strong feeling and not to make this Bill retrospective.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has made a very strong case against retrospective legislation. I think it is most atrocious in dealing with a large amount of money that retrospective legislation should be engaged in. The Minister for Finance introduced it last year. He put a tax upon the Grand National Sweepstake of March, 1932, which was not included in the income tax year 1932-33. It should not have been interfered with as far as the previous year was concerned. Having succeeded in that form of legislation the Government are now prepared to go a great deal further. I want to lay a few figures before the House, but I also want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether there is any truth in a statement that has been appearing in the daily Press to the effect that the proceeds of two of the sweeps that were intended under the Bill to be held up and put into this new fund, are going to be released and paid to the hospitals. May I ask is what has been appearing in the Press a fact?

It is a fact.

I am going to deal with the figures in regard to that. I want to say with regard to the first four sweeps that £2,018,000 was distributed. On that there was no duty. We come then to the proceeds of the two sweeps that are now proposed to be released and paid to the hospitals and that the Government were going to hold up. Those are the Grand National of 1932, and the Derby of 1932. These amount to £1,480,143.

The Derby of 1933 has not yet been run.

Please do not interrupt. Hold your tongue when people are speaking. Nobody interferes with you. I cannot give figures if there are interruptions.

I am sorry.

Say so and have done with it. All I want to point out is that there is now going to be very usefully released a sum of £1,480,000. That brings us to six of the sweeps. There have been no less than ten sweeps passed by the Minister for Finance. Of these there are four, including the present Derby, that will have to be paid. The Cesarewitch of 1932 and the Grand National of 1932 should be paid, and there is no rhyme or reason for holding up these sums amounting to something like £1,300,000. I am not a prophet, but I am told that the Derby will be almost equal, if not equal, to the Grand National. When that amount comes in, as it will do the week after next, the total amount that the Government will then be putting into the Trustee Account and holding up from the hospitals, and which the hospitals require to go on with the schemes that they originally hoped to finish, will be not less than £1,803,000. It is nothing less, I say, than a disgrace that that amount of money is going to be put into an account and held up, for the Minister for Local Government to do whatever he likes with. That is really what the meaning of the Act is, that he is going to put this amount into an account in the name of trustees who are to be no more than office boys. He is to tell them where to invest it. If they do not know where they are to invest it they have to ask him, and he, in consultation with the Minister for Finance, will tell them where they will invest it. That is what I read out of the Bill. The Government took very good care, when they were in retrospective mood with regard to the holding up of the money, to take hold of all that could come to them. For the last four sweepstakes they have got no less than £825,633, and if next week's Derby yields anything like what the previous one did they will have got £960,000 at least. The Government are giving £100,000 for milk to poor children, with which I entirely agree, but they are giving no credit for the means by which this money is raised. There was not a single word in the Budget about the £825,000 from the four sweepstakes since this duty was imposed. Let me mention—and I think it is only fair that I should mention it at the present moment when people are talking about unemployment—that there are no less than 3,800 people employed on the sweeps. They draw not a large salary many of them, but still they are drawing sufficient to keep the home fires burning. In addition, last year for the first time the revenue of the Post Office cleared itself. I have not any doubt that the reason why they were able to clear their accounts was because of the amount of money they had made out of the sweeps in postage stamps and telegrams, which was a very large amount indeed.

I would say that I entirely support and back up what Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has said, that it is a great shame that not less than £1,800,000 will be put in the hands of trustees, for the Minister for Local Government to do what he likes with, because at least three of those sweeps have gone through the ordinary legal formulæ. As far as this section is concerned the Committee of Reference is done away with. I hardly feel calm enough to say what I should like to say with regard to what the Government has done in connection with this Committee of Reference. I am not a politician, thank goodness, and I would have been very pleased to think that there was no political game in this. There were three men appointed—they were not friends of mine and I did not agree perhaps with their appointment—who had made themselves familiar with the details of hospital maintenance and management. They had got all the figures from the various hospitals throughout the Twenty-Six Counties at their finger ends. Not only that, but one of the men had gone to four foreign countries, inspected the hospitals there, and made himself absolutely au fait with all the modern developments of hospital building and management. Without a moment's notice those three men, who had made themselves acquainted with this work, were told to go, and in their place three men were put in who did not know anything about hospital management. I do not think anything more disgraceful could be done by a Government than to descend to a political dodge of that sort. I am very glad that I am not a politician, because I could not possibly stand over that. A man who is rejected at an election has got a job at £800 a year, and he knows absolutely nothing about the work. The man was taken off a farm and put into a job he knows absolutely nothing about. I defy anyone to stand up and offer any sort of decent apology for such an action. The Committee of Reference has to end if this Bill passes, as I suppose it will. The Committee of Reference is to terminate. Within a month or two before its termination the Committee of Reference, which was working and could have worked off another couple of these schemes because they had all the details at their finger ends, is sacked, and other people are put in. It does not matter about the cost because the other men were costing as much, but at all events I consider that it is an extremely disgusting thing to put three men out when they had made themselves familiar with the details of these schemes, and to put in three men who, I venture to say, know absolutely nothing about what they are put in to do.

The Deputy has got a considerable amount of latitude in dealing with the Committee of Reference, which is not mentioned in Section 4.

I beg pardon, it is. Take paragraph (d) which says: "Section 3 of the Public Charitable Hospitals (Amendment) Act, 1931, shall not apply and shall be deemed never to have applied in relation to any sweepstake in respect of which a Committee of Reference was not appointed under that section before the passing of this Act." Are you satisfied now, sir?

The Deputy's contention is correct.

I am not going to say any more except that I think there is a very widespread feeling of dissatisfaction against the legislation proposed to be carried out by this Bill.

It is rather a pity Deputy Sir James Craig would not take up politics. It was entertaining to hear him announce that he is not a politician——

If not, the Deputy made an excellent effort here to-night to make a political speech. He made, what I would call, an indecent attack upon the Committee of Reference and particularly upon one member of that Committee.

The whole three of them.

The Deputy did not take the trouble to familiarise himself with the facts. He said that one man was unsuited, and unfit for the position, and was in receipt of £800 a year. That is not so, and the Deputy ought to know that it is not so.

One of the Committee of Reference gets £1,000 a year, and the other two £800 a year each. That was the sum that the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned when questioned.

I did not answer the question. It was the Minister for Justice who answered it.

Well then, will you tell us what the amounts are?

For three sweepstakes.

For reporting on three sweepstakes! Is the Deputy aware what the amount is that was paid to each member of the late Committee of Reference for reporting on the three sweepstakes on which they did report?

They reported on five sweepstakes.

Is the Deputy aware how much they got? Did he ever make any complaint to this House on the subject?

I do not think I did.

And yet the Deputy is not a politician.

These men knew their jobs.

They learned, and probably the Deputy will learn his if long enough in this House.

Not from you, anyway.

Many Deputies are very anxious to extend the purposes to which the money from the sweepstakes could be applied. The definition of hospital is not nearly wide enough. Then they proceeded to tell us why the Hospitals Commission is being set up, and why the National Trustees are being set up, and say that no money will be made available to them until the Grand National of 1934.

Why the Grand National of 1934? Is there not a Cesarewitch for 1933?

And a Cambridgeshire for 1933?

Does not Deputy Sir James Craig realise better than any other Deputy the difficulty with which these hospitals will have to contend?

I know it would require men who know something about their business to deal with the matter.

The Trustees will be educated by the Parliamentary Secretary.

It has been said here to-night that the moneys are the property of the participating hospitals. The moneys were contributed for the benefit of the Free State hospitals, and the moneys are going to be devoted to the benefit of Free State hospitals, and to the purpose for which the moneys were raised and not any other purpose. I am quite sure that Deputy Sir James Craig, not being a politician, will agree with me that we have reached a condition of hospital chaos, and that some co-ordination is necessary. If there is to be co-ordination it must be brought about before the money is distributed. Before they get the money they require for their particular schemes that co-ordination should be brought about. Suppose we did not do that and continued to distribute money according to the recommendations of the Committee of Reference what safeguards have we or what control over their Boards in future?

Is it quite true that it was a condition of previous legislation that 25 per cent. of the beds in the hospitals should be available free of charge to the poor? But when these hospitals get their money and get the capital necessary to carry on their extensions and to provide equipment, and get their endowments, is there any provision in the existing law that can compel any of these hospitals to continue to make provision that 25 per cent. of the beds shall be for the poor? I am not aware of it. Hand over the money first. Tell them to equip and build away; and then ask them: will they be good enough to take in the destitute poor. We are aiming in this legislation at making sure that when the money is given to the hospitals it will be made a condition that a certain number of beds are free to the poor. And if that condition is not observed we will take powers, under this Bill, to secure that the payment of the endowment will be discontinued.

It is suggested that we are actually confiscating the money belonging to the hospitals. The hospitals do not own this money. The fact that hospitals become participating hospitals in the sweep does not entitle them to the money. Under existing legislation the representatives on the Committee of Reference come to the Minister for Justice with their report. He is not bound to accept or to act on that report, or to make his distribution in accordance with it. He consults the Minister for Local Government. What is the revolutionary change we are making? The Minister will consult the Hospitals Commission, and if he is satisfied the money should be allocated on the recommendation of the Committee he makes the allocation according to the recommendations. That is the revolutionary change that politicians are complaining so much about. Already upwards of £3,000,000 has been distributed to voluntary hospitals without any plan of co-ordination. We had the report of the Committee of Reference in whom Deputy Sir James Craig has such a lot of confidence, in which they complain of lack of co-ordination, and of the chaotic conditions prevailing under the hospitals system and the necessity for setting up such a Commission as we are setting up under this Bill.

The amendment proposed by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney and supported by Deputy Sir James Craig cuts across the whole principle of the Bill and is not acceptable.

Debate adjourned.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until to-morrow, Friday, at 10.30 a.m.