Public Hospitals Bill, 1933—Committee Stage.
Debate resumed on amendment 2:—
In sub-section (2), to delete all words after the word "Act," line 23, to the end of the sub-section line 56.
I listened with great regret to the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary last night that he would not accede to this amendment. I endeavoured to put the amendment before the Parliamentary Secretary as moderately and as clearly as lay in my power to do so and, as I say I regret exceedingly that the appeal I made to the Parliamentary Secretary fell upon deaf ears. I am afraid—at least, I hope—that some of the reasons why the Parliamentary Secretary's ears were deaf were due to the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary has been entirely misinformed as to the position under the previous Hospitals' Sweeps. The Parliamentary Secretary said last night that the money collected under the Hospitals' Sweeps, or rather, I should say the proportion of the money collected under the Hospitals' Sweeps, which was appropriated by statute and under a certain scheme accepted and passed by the Minister for Justice, was not the property of the participating hospitals. In that he has been completely misinformed. It is their property. He stated last night that the Minister for Justice had to consult with the Minister for Local Government before he made any appropriation. He is quite wrong in that. There is a statutory duty upon the Minister for Justice to appropriate, amongst the participating hospitals, their share of the proceeds of the sweepstakes which by statute is given to the participating hospitals. It is their money and nobody else's.
It is quite true that exercising his statutory powers the Minister is bound to give amongst the hospitals, in proportion to their needs, the sum of money coming to them under the sweepstakes schemes; but he cannot do so arbitrarily or withhold one single penny of it from the participating hospitals as a whole. They, as a whole, own it, but what particular share of it they own it is his statutory duty to determine, and to determine according to their needs. It was under that scheme that every single penny under the two schemes already completely finished as well as under the third scheme which has been sanctioned was collected. A Deputy who thought he was giving the House a lot of information said that the Derby race had not yet been run. It has not, but the scheme for the Derby was sanctioned in February or March last. As soon as the tickets were printed and sold under it the money becomes the property of the participating hospitals.
The Parliamentary Secretary has been completely misinformed as to the position of the Minister for Justice. It is a very ordinary position, one which arises under wills and deeds of settlement with great regularity. It is one of the most ordinary things to see under a will or under a settlement that a certain sum of money is left to a class of persons with power to one individual to determine in what proportion that class of persons is to take the money. The technical term for it is, that power of appointment is given to an individual. The position here is very much the same as if a sum of money, say £1,000, was left to a man's children with power to the father to apportion amongst the children the share they were to take of that sum. That is the position here. A discretion is left to the father —in this case a wider discretion is left to the Minister—to decide in what proportion that sum of money is to be divided amongst the objects of the power, in that case amongst the children, but it does not become his property. He has got no right to appropriate it. He has not the power and is not justified in putting that sum to any other purpose, or of giving it to any other class, except the class to whom it has been left and to whom it belongs. That is the position here, and to take away from the participating hospitals money which is theirs is a distinct act of injustice to them. I am perfectly aware of the fact that the Minister for Justice has not carried out his statutory obligation. I am not going to blame, not would I be justified in blaming, the Parliamentary Secretary for the non-performance of his statutory duty by the Minister for Justice, but though the Minister for Justice has so far not performed his statutory duty the Parliamentary Secretary, the Minister for Local Government or the Executive Council as a whole should not make it impossible for the Minister for Justice, even at this late hour, to perform the statutory duty imposed upon him, and to divide this money amongst the participating hospitals as he is bound by statute to do.
There was a considerable amount of discussion last night on the appointment of the new advisory committee. That advisory committee, of course, is appointed or was appointed by the Minister for Justice and for that the Parliamentary Secretary is not in the slightest bit responsible. I am perfectly aware of that fact, but I would like to point out to the Parliamentary Secretary in what a very serious position he is putting not merely the Minister for Justice but the whole Executive Council if he does not accept this amendment. Three gentlemen have been appointed to this advisory committee under these three schemes, appointed at the end of last month while this Bill was actually receiving or had received a Second Reading. Those gentlemen have been appointed, one at £1,000 a year and the others at £800 each for these three schemes. The Parliamentary Secretary said last night—it appeared to me a very strange argument for the Parliamentary Secretary to use—that they are not being paid at the rate of £1,000 a year and £800 a year respectively. Of course, they are not. They are being paid at an infinitely higher rate. Their office completely ceases to be the minute this Bill becomes law. Let us assume that it takes two months from the Second Reading until this Bill becomes law, and they are being paid at the rate, one of them of £1,000 for two months' work and the others £800 each for two months' work. At the end of two months their office ceases to be, so that one is being paid at the rate of £6,000 and the others at the rate of £4,800 each per annum. That is about the best estimate we can make of the rate at which they are being paid per annum, and paid for what? Not for drawing up a report to the Minister for Justice. That is absolutely absurd, because a report ceases to be in the power of the Minister for Justice the very second this Bill becomes law, so that unless this amendment is carried we will have the most extraordinary—I will not mince my words—bit of jobbery possible carried out. That is unless the amendment is accepted, because these gentlemen will have received these very substantial sums of money for doing absolutely no work at all.
The Parliamentary Secretary can obviate all that. He can say that these men have been appointed to draw up schemes upon three sweeps as an advisory committee. Let them do it and let the schemes which they draw up be acted upon. I would suggest to him, even from the Parliamentary point of view and from the point of view of clean public administration in this State, if for no other, that it would be advisable for him to accept this amendment. But of course, there is a deeper thing behind it than all that. This Bill is the appropriation of certain moneys belonging to the hospitals, that are and can be put by the Minister to completely different purposes and the participating hospitals need not get the whole share which is theirs. It is an injustice to them and a wrong-doing which should not be encouraged by this House.
Let us look at sub-section (d) of this section 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." To what schemes does that refer? I should like to know very much. That was sensible at the time at which this Bill received its Second Reading, but what is the meaning of it now? There has been a Committee of Reference appointed for every single scheme which has been sanctioned including the current scheme, the Derby scheme. The whole of this scheme as outlined here is morally wrong and morally indefensible, and it should not be passed by this House. The Minister says that if he did not take away from the hospitals money which is justly and rightly the property of the hospitals then the hospitals would become too rich, and that then they would not be in the position in which he could force them into an amalgamation scheme. I am not discussing the question as to whether his amalgamation scheme—I know nothing about it—is good or bad, but the money is there, the property of these hospitals, under a scheme sanctioned by the Minister for Justice under the provisions of a particular statute.
If the hospitals were getting too much, if they were getting independent of the Government and the Minister does not want voluntary hospitals to be independent of the Government, then either he might have said to the Minister for Justice, "Sanction no more schemes until I am ready with my Bill," or he might have brought in his Bill before the last schemes were sanctioned, but he took neither of those courses. He has not taken the only possible straight course for him to take. He has taken this course. He has allowed the hospitals to promote schemes for their own advantage. He has allowed these schemes completely to fructify and now he comes along and wishes to take the proceeds of these schemes. That is entirely wrong. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary, even at this eleventh hour, to accept the amendment. It would be a shocking thing for the reputation of the House if the amendment were not accepted.
I do not think there is much to be added to what I said last night in opposition to the acceptance of this amendment. As I stated last night this amendment cuts across the entire intention of the Bill. When I reminded the Dáil last night that if this amendment were accepted, not a single penny would be placed at the disposal of the National Trustees until the Grand National of 1934, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney expressed amazement. Deputy Sir James Craig appeared to be surprised too. I suppose that overnight they have probably given further consideration to the matter and they have probably discovered that I stated the absolute truth, and that my statement was absolutely accurate. One would think from the tone of the discussion on this amendment that the associated hospitals and the committees of the associated hospitals were in a condition of very grave anxiety as to the possible or probable effects of this Bill. I presume Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney knows, and I am sure Deputy Sir James Craig is fully aware of the fact that we have been in the most intimate touch with the Committee of the associated hospitals on this question of amending legislation for a period of upwards of 12 months. I have had personally very many exchanges of views with representatives of the Committee. The Joint Committee of the associated hospitals were enthusiastically in favour of a Bill such as the Bill before the House. It is well Deputies should know that, and it is well that it should be understood that when Deputy Sir James Craig or Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney attack the main principles of the Bill here, they are not speaking for or acting in the name or in the interests of the associated hospitals, but that they are doing merely their little political part for their Party. Of course, Deputy Sir James Craig is not a politician, but as I said last night, he is the makings of one.
I did not begin soon enough.
I think it would have been wise if he had not begun at all. He could never be a success at his time of life. It is a young man's job. How ever, he is doing reasonably well.
As good as the young man.
Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has worked himself up—he has done tolerably well in a difficult position— to a semblance of indignation about the appointment of a new Committee of Reference. He suggests to the House, and it can be for no other purpose than for some political reason, that one of the members of that Committee of Reference will for two months' work draw £1,000 and that two other members will draw £800 each. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney knows that is not so.
He must know. He has been Minister for Justice. He is a lawyer of some standing. I understand that a considerable time ago he was called to the Inner Bar—I think that is the technical description of it—and he surely must know that when this Bill becomes an Act the Committee of Reference that has recently been appointed will cease to operate. They will go out of office and they will be paid in proportion to the work done. They will not have reported or could not have reported in two months' time on the three sweepstakes. Of course, they will be paid in proportion to the time they have spent on the work.
That seems to tickle the Deputy's fancy. I like to see Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney laugh. It is refreshing because it seldoms occurs in the House. Taking it all round he has a more pleasant aspect than when he is not laughing but it is not much of an improvement. "Political jobbery of the worst kind"— there was not a word about political jobbery when Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney selected his three representatives to form the Committee of Reference. It was all right, of course, when Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney did it. It was not politics then, but when the Minister for Justice in a Fianna Fáil administration dared to select a new Committee of Reference and dispense with the services of Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney's Committee of Reference, it becomes political jobbery of the worst kind. The Minister for Justice proposes to pay £800 each for reporting on three sweeps—political corruption of the worst kind—but for reporting on three sweeps, under Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney's administration, the three super men whom he selected—and, of course, politics were no consideration—secured, two of them £1,500 each and the third £2,250.
Of course, it was all right when Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney did it —purity of public life and the stern morality we used to hear about in the old days. It is either necessary to have some co-ordination in our hospital system or it is not. If we are to continue to develop along the lines on which our voluntary hospitals have been developing in recent years, it is generally admitted by everybody who is free from party affiliations and able to give an honest opinion on the subject that we are reaching a condition of chaos, and that co-ordination is necessary. If this amendment is accepted, we will endeavour to bring about our co-ordination when we have satisfied the financial needs of the existing institutions.
As I said last night, if we are to continue to disburse these moneys in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee of Reference along the same principle of distribution, we have no guarantee whatever that free beds will be made available for the poor in the future. Are we interested in securing, out of the moneys at our disposal, that free treatment will become available to the poor? If we are, we must take steps to ensure that, when that money is handed over to the voluntary hospitals, they will be legally bound not only to provide, at the time they get the money, a certain percentage of their beds free to the poor, but to continue to provide those beds for all time. The voluntary hospitals under existing legislation can snap their fingers at us once they have got what money they require.
The only thing that would prevent them would be the effect of public opinion. So far as the law is concerned, they could snap their fingers at us. This is essentially a business transaction. I have no doubt that when the hospitals get all the money they require—and we hope to place that money at their disposal; there is no sinister intention behind this legislation at all, but we want to avail of the opportunity to get our hospital development into some systematic organised scheme—and when they carry out extensions and secure the equipment that is considered necessary, they will make reasonable provision for the poor, but it is better to be on the safe side. Nobody can object to taking the necessary powers in time to ensure that it will not be a matter of the goodwill of these institutions, but that they will be bound by law to place these beds at the disposal of the people.
I said, last night, that, taking into account the decision to disburse the moneys available out of the Grand National and Derby sweeps of 1932, upwards of £3,000,000 has already been handed over to the voluntary hospitals. I very much regret that an attempt was not made to co-ordinate our hospital system before this money was handed over. However, there is no use complaining about that now. They have got upwards of £3,000,000, and I do not think that many Deputies are satisfied that the poor are a whole lot better off as a result of that expenditure than they were before it was allocated. When I say that I quite realise, at the same time, that the incomes of the voluntary hospitals have been seriously impaired as a result of the sweepstakes, and I quite realise that a good deal of the money they have got has been earmarked for capital expenditure, but, at the same time, I think that there is a good deal of reasonable ground for complaint as to the difficulty of getting patients into voluntary hospitals at the present time. If I were satisfied that this amendment was calculated to improve the Bill, I would accept it without any hesitation, but I am perfectly satisfied that it cuts across the entire intention of the Bill and, if it were accepted, the House might as well not pass the Bill at all.
There are one or two points that have not been referred to in the course of this discussion. In the first place, this Bill is a marked departure from the previous Acts we have had dealing with the public hospitals. On the tickets which are sold in connection with the sweep there is a statement to the effect that 25 per cent. of the proceeds will be be divided amongst the hospitals. The Act under which the hospital sweeps have been held up to date, as amended in 1931, No. 24 of 1931, states:—
Two-thirds of the available surplus in such sweepstakes shall be divided between and paid to such governing bodies or such one or more of them exclusive of the other or others and in such proportions as the Minister shall direct having regard to the needs and circumstances of such hospitals respectively.
It goes on to say:—
The Committee of Reference appointed under this Act for the purposes of such sweepstakes shall, when requested by the Minister so to do and after consultation with the Committee managing such sweepstakes, report to the Minister as to the proportion in which the said two-thirds of such available surplus should be divided under this sub-section between the governing bodies concerned and the reasons for the adoption of such proportions.
Sub-section (4) (c) of Section 5 says:—
For the purpose of making the report to the Minister under the foregoing paragraph of this section, such Committee of Reference may visit all or any of the premises of any such hospitals and shall be entitled to inspect and examine such premises and the fittings and equipment thereof and shall also be entitled to call for and be furnished with full information in relation to the management and the financial position of any such hospitals and to see and examine all accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the governing body of any such hospital and also all or any books and other documents containing any record of such receipts or expenditure.
Sub-section (4) (d) sets out:—
The Minister shall not determine the proportion in which such two-thirds is to be divided until he has received the report of such Committee of Reference in relation thereto and in determining such proportion the Minister shall have regard to but shall not be bound by such report.
The last sub-section says:—
Before determining the said proportions, the Minister shall consult with the Minister for Local Government and Public Health in regard thereto.
That is the Act under which the sweepstakes have been held; that is the Act in respect of which subscriptions to the sweepstakes were made by the people. That is the law as it stands, and the Committee of Reference have so reported. The Parliamentary Secretary, when dealing with this matter on the first occassion when his Bill was introduced, made a reference to the Committee. He said that in their report on the Manchester November Handicap Sweepstake, 1931, the Committee cogently illustrated the dangers of a piecemeal and uncontrolled development along these lines. He abstracts from three painstaking valuable, most industriously-complied reports a single sentence on which to base the whole of his case for an alteration in the distribution of these funds to the various hospitals. According to the law as it stands, and in respect of which there ought not to be any retrospective legislation, provision is made for the division of these funds amongst the hospitals that were sanctioned by the Minister in connection with the holding of these sweepstakes.
Various matters have been introduced here which might well have been left outside the whole discussion. There is one outstanding comment I have to make. Seldom has there been presented to any Parliament or Minister such able reports as have been made by this Committee of Reference and I deprecate very much the Parliamentary Secretary trailing these people as political appointments. They were not political appointments. The work they have done, the excellence of it, the study it shows and the pains they undertook, indicate that whatever honorarium shall be given to them they have earned every single penny of it. They regarded their work very seriously, much more seriously than the Oireachtas, when they were framing these reports. There is scarcely a single aspect of the whole medical problem that they have not examined and explored; there is no source of information that they have not exhausted.
The Parliamentary Secretary tells us that he has been in close touch with the Committee of Reference. I wonder has he read its report? Has he seen on page 16 of the report relating to the Derby Sweepstake, 1932, the reference in connection with new buildings? The Committee state there:
"A few concrete cases will serve as illustrations of the position and of the difficulties which have arisen in some cases, viz.:—
(a) The Superioress of Linden notified us on 29th November last of her intention to stop building work as from 2nd December, 1932, and we were informed by the accountants on 21st December that the building work at Stillorgan Cottage had been stopped, pending receipt of the necessary funds."
These are funds which, by a Statute of this Oireachtas, they are entitled to receive and which have been withheld from them. Further on the same page we read:—
"(b) On 14th January last the Governors of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, wrote to us regarding the estimated shortage in funds available from sweeps up to 1st July, 1934, to meet the amounts of our rewards to the hospitals, which we referred to in our last report. They stated: ‘This places the Governors in a very serious position, in view of their actual commitments for the rebuilding of the hospital. Your Committee will recall that from the beginning the Governors claimed special treatment under the Public Charitable Hospitals Acts on the grounds that it was necessary to rebuild the entire hospital and to enlarge same very considerably to meet the increasing requirements of the district served by the hospital.' They add: ‘The Governors respectfully claim that the entire amount required for the building, equipment and endowment of the hospital should be set aside at once and the Governors authorised to proceed with their plans, which cannot be delayed, in view of the commitments already undertaken and the contracts ready for execution.'"
The Parliamentary Secretary says he has been in close contact with the members of the Committee of Reference for the last 12 months. Has he been in contact with the management of those two institutions mentioned here? On page 17 we observe:—
(c) The Governors of Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital have now in progress Part I of their building scheme, but we are informed that they "feel that they should advance with caution, and, therefore, do not intend to proceed with further building until a sufficient sum has been obtained to ensure the future financial stability of the hospital."
In this morning's paper I saw a reference to the Drumcondra Hospital. There is reference made there to the awkward position they are in by reason of these moneys having been held up. The Parliamentary Secretary last night astonished me by a statement he made that if these moneys were distributed to the various hospitals we have no guarantee regarding the service that would be rendered to the poor or from the point of view of free beds. The fact is we had no guarantee before these Bills were introduced that there was any such service on the part of the Dublin hospitals or the hospitals throughout the country and yet the poor were given treatment. What is the meaning of the introduction of these Bills? These Bills were introduced because of the deplorable financial position of the hospitals and their utter inability to keep their doors open much longer unless the State came to their aid. Public subscriptions were drying up. As a matter of fact, Holles Street Hospital was on the point of collapse and the Government were approached with the object of making some effort to give the hospitals an opportunity of regulating their overdrafts or balancing their accounts. It is because they can balance their accounts and not because of any statutory regulations that may be made, the hospitals will be able to give any service required of them by the poor.
Are we to take it that these hospitals, having got money from any source, endowment or otherwise, would at a precise moment say: "There will be no more attention for the poor?" The thing is unthinkable. These hospitals were there before any Act of the Oireachtas interfered with or interrupted their administration. There are two things they ask for, building and endowments. Why do they ask for buildings? Because they can get no further subscriptions from the public towards their building costs. Why do they ask for endowment? Because all voluntary subscriptions have dried up. I mentioned on another occasion a letter from Sir Conway Dwyer in connection with the Richmond, Hardwicke and Whitworth Hospital. They have been deprived by the Dáil, by reason of the sweepstake moneys, of a subscription of £7,000 which they were in receipt of since 1854.
No hospital in the country can formulate any policy in connection with its future management until this question is settled and until they know how they stand. These reports reflect the greatest possible credit, not alone upon the industry and the genius, but upon the intelligence of the Committee of Reference. I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary whether the Committee's reports have been treated in the manner which should distinguish all governments— with some regard to courtesy. I am anxious to know if the Committee have been thanked for the work they did and the reports they have furnished. They give the Parliamentary Secretary, at any rate, by reason of their close examination and study of the whole matter, an opportunity of understanding those Acts. I have no objection to the making for the future, for any sweepstake which is not held under the law as it stands, of any such regulation as the Parliamentary Secretary or the House may determine, but I do say in respect of subscriptions which have been received for distribution to the hospitals under certain statutory conditions that it is not a wise policy to interrupt them, and they need not be interrupted. There need be no necessity for it. The Minister's power in consultation with the Minister for Justice to regulate the distribution from sweepstakes already held should allow this distribution to be made to the various hospitals.
I should like to see some justification for the departure from the recommendations made in the report. If a different Committee were appointed it is quite possible that an alteration in the three decimal places which this Committee have suggested might be made. But it would have to be on some regular basis. I presume the Ministers have read this report of the Committee of Reference. There is in it a completely new orientation for hospital work in this country. There is something which the ordinary public would not appreciate at the moment, because the ordinary public's idea of an hospital is that it should treat and cure disorders and infirmities, whereas the report envisages a new orientation of hospital work, something in the nature of prevention. I am not at all sure that it is not possible to get that big change more especially when one considers the work we expect these hospitals to do and the work which we hope they will do.
This Bill is an entire departure from the Acts of the Oireachtas in connection with sweepstakes so far. There is a later section which gives the Minister absolute power in connection with the distribution of moneys. It gives him absolute and uncontrolled power. There was until the amended list came out a reservation or restriction upon the Minister's distribution of sweepstake money. But now by the amendment he proposes to wipe that out and to be in a position to give money in any way or every way that he should desire. As far as the future is concerned, while I do not agree with that particular proposal, I say it would be something that the House should be entitled to consider in all the circumstances of the case. But so far as the Statute regulating how these moneys should be distributed, it is clear that these various hospitals in their whole management must have had some regard to the fact that for the last 18 months or two years they were entitled to expect these moneys from the result of the sweepstakes. They must have in some way or other regulated their economy on that basis. Now after three reports have been out, the Minister informs us that he proposes to distribute the funds of two sweepstakes. There is one held up——
The sweepstakes that have been reported on by the Committee of Reference include the Derby Sweep.
That means that we have three that are not yet reported on. I suggest to the Minister that he should consider the thing from that angle. Three have not yet been reported on but they ought to have been. Directly the scheme is sanctioned the Minister, according to the Statute, should forthwith appoint his Committee. There may have been some difficulty if a previous Committee were still reporting. I have not looked at the Statute. I do not think that it was a wise proceeding to change the Committee of Reference. In respect of the three sweeps that have not yet been reported on, the same basis of report ought to be made in connection with them. The people who subscribed should have no cause to complain in connection with the subscriptions. At any rate, we would keep ourselves right in connection with these matters, and there is ample opportunity in connection with the future to enable the Minister to get a scheme of co-ordination without any loss or the breaking of any undertaking as far as an undertaking was required to be given in connection with the sweepstakes on this occasion.
I am rather surprised when Deputy Cosgrave had before him the references that he did not correct the expression used, that the action of the Government is unprecedented. As I read the 1931 Act it introduced a new principle in connection with the moneys available from these sweeps. It appropriated two-thirds of these to the assistance of voluntary hospitals and put at the disposal of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health this one-third which he was to devote to hospitals under the control of the local authorities. Although the retrospective effect of the Act is not so sweeping as in this particular Bill— Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney shakes his head—Section 9 of the Act of 1931 says: "This Act shall not apply or have effect in relation to any scheme which has been sanctioned under the Principal Act by the Minister before the 30th day of April, 1931, or to any sweepstake held under the principal Act, whether before or after the passing of this Act, in pursuance of a scheme so sanctioned." And then sub-section (2) says: "Where a scheme for a sweepstake has been sanctioned by the Minister under the Principal Act after the 30th April, 1931, and before the passing of this Act, shall apply in relation to such scheme and any sweepstake held in pursuance thereof...." That was four months before the Act was passed as the Act was passed in July. Sweepstakes after the 30th April, became subject to the Act which was passed in July. The Minister was given power to revise a scheme which he had already sanctioned. All the arguments used here by Deputy Sir James Craig, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney and Deputy Cosgrave that there has been some breach of the undertaking with the subscribers and that there has been some wrong done in connection with the appropriation of funds under previous Acts, therefore, fail.
As I say the 1931 Act was not as sweeping but the principle was exactly the same, and when Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney works himself up into a state of indignation and makes charges of dishonesty against the Government and charges them with indulging in something which is unprecedented in legislation I would draw his attention to that fact. It seems pretty obvious from the circumstances which prevail with regard to these moneys that unless the Minister takes this power of control of moneys which have already been distributed as he says, the working out of this Act cannot have any fruit whatsoever for over a year from now.
But he has the power now. The two Ministers take the power under the Act passed already.
I understand we have already given the Minister uncontrolled power. I understand that one of the bases of the Bill is that it takes away from the Reference Committee such control as it previously had and gives the Minister control. Is it suggested by the Deputy now that the Minister with such power will ignore the Reference Committee? If so, all this talk about the new Bill falls to the ground.
He must have regard to the Reference Committee's Report in the distribution of the moneys as they stand. Under the new dispensation he can have no such regard.
As I understand the suggestion of the Deputy is that there is no need for this legislation.
That he has the power already?
Oh no. The Committee makes a report and the Minister must have regard to that report in the distribution of the money.
Then where is the necessity for this?
The wording of the sub-section referred to by Deputy Cosgrave is that "in determining such proportions the Minister shall have regard to but shall not be bound by such report". He is relying on these words to justify the Minister in doing in a left-handed way what he is doing openly and above board by introducing this legislation.
If that is the argument, I am satisfied.
I may be under a misapprehension, but I understood that was the Deputy's argument.
The Attorney-General should make his own argument and I shall make mine.
I am endeavouring to make mine in answer to the Deputy. Owing to the nature of the sweepstakes, owing to the long delay which must elapse between the time when a sweepstake is sanctioned and the coming of these moneys to hand, the report of the Reference Committee, and the distribution, it was recognised, apparently, under the previous Act that it was necessary, although a scheme had been sanctioned to apply legislation then passing to certain schemes. The Parliamentary Secretary has already told the House that the moneys in connection with two of the schemes, in respect of which the Reference Committee have reported, are to be distributed.
Or three of the schemes in respect of which reports have been made. I understand the moneys are to be distributed. That seems to me to remove any anxiety on the part of any of the participating hospitals for the immediate future. In respect of the sweepstakes upon which no report has been made, and which, under this Bill, will be put under the direction and control of the new commission, surely it will not be suggested that it is going to be such a radical departure from the attitude hitherto adopted towards hospitals, that any hospitals need have any anxiety.
Because everybody has realised, and must realise, and, I am sure, Deputy Sir James Craig himself will admit, that when the scheme of hospitals sweepstakes was first presented for Parliamentary sanction it was not within their wildest imagination that moneys would have become available in the large way in which they have become available. It was only hoped to relieve the then pressing burdens of the hospitals; to relieve them of their debts and to help them to look forward to the future with less anxiety.
Everybody realises that what has happened could not have been dreamed of. Moneys have become available in such large measure that we are now in the position that, even in the view of the Reference Committee themselves, if the machinery first set up for dealing with the sweepstakes was allowed to go on without being remodelled, you would have in the country a number of elaborately-constructed and equipped hospitals which, without being unduly fearsome as to the future, one might easily contemplate would cast a burden on the State in future. If elaborately-constructed and equipped hospitals are allowed to go up without some attempt at control and co-ordination, and some long view taken of the future, it is quite conceivable that what may appear to be a great blessing and boon at present may become a very disastrous thing for future generations. It has been, therefore, I think, apparent to everybody that it is necessary to find some new way to deal with the tremendous sums of money which are now becoming available and that, as it seems possible, in view of the measure in which moneys have become available, to prepare for the future and fit the State with hospitals which will be co-ordinated by a definite scheme, power should be taken by the Oireachtas to see that that should be brought about. That, I think, should appeal to Deputy Sir James Craig and, I believe, appeals even to the Deputies opposite. I do not know that the Parliamentary Secretary is not very much justified in saying that the attack which has been made is merely for the purpose of gaining some seeming temporary political advantage, because the control and development of hospitals should be brought about under a better scheme than has hitherto been in force. That is the purpose of the Bill, and this section is necessary in order to give it a proper start and put it on its feet.
There are one or two points I should like to refer to, especially in reference to some statements made by the Attorney-General and Parliamentary Secretary. The voluntary hospitals did not ask the State to carry through sweepstakes. They asked the permission of the House to be allowed to carry through sweepstakes themselves. That was because, being voluntary hospitals, getting very little, if any assistance from the State, they found that in modern conditions the voluntary subscriptions they got were not sufficient to carry on.
The argument of the Attorney-General seems to be that the sweepstakes being so successful is a justification for the State to intervene and, from what I can gather from the speech of the Attorney-General and the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary last evening, to regard these moneys as practically State moneys. If, for some reason, voluntary subscriptions poured into the hospitals, that would be quite as much justification, it seems to me, for the hospitals being interfered with as to how they will manage these voluntary subscriptions. The whole implication of the speech I listened to last night from the Parliamentary Secretary, and the speech now from the Attorney-General, is that this is State money. To me it seems that you might as well regard the voluntary subscriptions given to these voluntary bodies as State moneys.
It is absurd to suggest that these objections are put forward for political reasons. Whether in the Government, or out of the Government, I always stood against any interference in certain directions with the voluntary hospital system in this country. I think any such interference is dangerous. I opposed it, and the late Government did not allow it. They put their face against it, as far as possible. We recognise that in modern conditions the tendency is for the State to interfere; that the tendency of the Departments is to interfere, and interfere too much with voluntary institutions. It is because this Bill does so that we object to it. Our objection was as strong when we were members of the Government as it is now in this particular case. Perhaps that is the reason the Parliamentary Secretary has to regret that steps were not taken sooner to bring pressure to bear upon these voluntary institutions. He spoke of the enthusiastic way in which the voluntary hospitals—I am not quite sure whether he meant individual hospitals or the general committee—had accepted his scheme. He said they were enthusiastically in its favour. We might be inclined to pay a little more attention to that were we not told last year that there was a voluntary offer by the Sweepstakes Committee in connection with the Budget. Of course, there was. With a pistol at their head, it was not a voluntary offer. We have some enthusiasm now on the part of the hospitals with five sweeps being held up only a week or two ago. Naturally, they would be enthusiastic in the conditions revealed in these reports. What else could they be but enthusiastic over any release of money—money that belongs to them? Of course, they had to be.
The Minister's speech was peppered in part with bouquets and in other parts with insults to the hospitals. If he gave them a bouquet he immediately began to mend his hand and make a reservation. "We do not know what they would do. Quite true they have done good work in the past so far as the poor were concerned but we cannot trust them"; that was practically the burden of the Minister's speech at one moment. Seeing that possibly that might be regarded as an insult, then the bouquet came in. We can see from the drift of the Bill and from the Minister's attitude in this particular matter what is the real mind of the Minister and the Government. The Minister has not repeated what he said last night that this money did not belong to the participating hospitals. I wonder does he still hold that it does not? Of course, after all, should we be surprised that in the case of the hospitals the Government does this? It has been their tendency too long to intervene, and not to mind those ordinary property rights. It has done it, in the case of the Railways Bill, in connection with debenture holders. It promises to do it, at all events, in the case of the farmers in connection with the size of their farms. We should not expect the hospitals to escape. There is that principle seen in every Act of the Government, and it is now being carried out in this. There is not the slightest doubt that the money belongs to those hospitals. The Government does come in and play a certain function, but that function is strictly limited. Anybody who has listened to the Minister, and anybody who has seen the type of mind he displays, knows perfectly well that there is going to be more and more interference, and that the Act is to be used for that particular purpose. The voluntary character is to disappear more and more from those institutions, and the need of the hospitals for this sweep money, which, after all, is not the money of the Government in any sense of the word, is to be used to bludgeon them more and more into surrender of their present voluntary position. That is the reason, and not on account of political grounds, that we object to this interference with the very few voluntary institutions we have left; we object to the line taken up by the Government. It is quite clear that the Minister and the Government in every Department—it is not alone in this particular case—make no distinction between control and a certain amount of guidance.
The Minister, as I say, is going to use this Act to control the hospitals. That is openly his purpose. It is the purpose that is revealed by the speech of the Minister, and still more revealed by the speech of the Attorney-General. Disaster, unless there is this control by the Government of the hospitals' work, is what is predicted by the Attorney-General; we are facing national disaster unless this piece of confiscation is allowed to go through. Naturally, in the face of national disaster any ordinary principles must go by the board. Unless we have co-ordination, we are told by the Minister, then there is chaos again. If the hospitals are allowed to go on, if the voluntary system is allowed to continue, we are to have chaos in this particular matter. The principles with which this Bill is concerned are evidenced in most of the pieces of important legislation that have been introduced by this Government. The Minister, as I say, pays compliments to the hospitals; he speaks of the good work they have done for the poor; he realises the heavy financial burden that is upon them; but for fear that might seem too generous a tribute to the work they have done, he goes on to say: "I wonder is there any Deputy on any side of the House who is satisfied with the treatment those hospitals give to the poor?" It is impossible, if you are to attach attention to mere words, to find out what is really the attitude of the Minister towards the hospitals. Of course, if you pierce to the reality you find it is an attitude of distrust and hostility to those particular voluntary bodies. What is his excuse for rejecting this amendment? His excuse for rejecting this amendment is that if the money which belongs to the participating hospitals is not now, so to speak, taken from them, and put at the disposal of the Minister—as under the Act it would be completely at the disposal of the Minister—the hospitals will be so well off that they will flout the Minister, flout public opinion —he admits that public opinion might have some effect upon him—and neglect the poor. That is the argument put forward by the Minister and the Attorney-General here to-day.
Even looking at it from a purely pounds, shillings and pence point of view, seeing the way in which State activity has more and more dried up voluntary effort in this country, is there any likelihood of the hospitals ever being in a position for any length of time to flout the wishes even of the Minister? It is quite obvious that there is nothing of the kind. It is only another instance, I suggest, on the part of the Government of giving way to the strong temptation that I admit is before all Governments, of more and more State control, more and more State interference. There is no justification put forward by the Minister for the attitude he is taking up of interfering, so far as legislation can do it, with the rights and property of the participating hospitals. That is the reason that I am sorry the Minister is not accepting this principle. If the Minister accepted it, what is the difficulty? What political kudos can we get out of this? None. What could be our political motive in bringing it forward? It is because we object to this interference with the few remaining voluntary institutions which we have left that we bring it forward.
There is one other remark I should like to make on a subject that has been discussed. It is in connection with the Committee of Reference. The Minister does not seem to realise that he is not appointing a committee for the first time, that he has got rid of an existing committee which he confessed last night has done good work. We know perfectly well that the reward meted out in other instances by this Government to those who do good work is to get rid of them. I suggest that it is the fact that a committee was in existence which had done good work, and that without any excuse it has been replaced, that has given rise to uneasiness as to the motives of the Government and of the Minister in this particular connection.
This amendment proposes to do away with the retrospective clauses in this Bill. In opposing the amendment, the Parliamentary Secretary said that the Hospitals Committee, representing the hospitals, were enthusiastic in their support of the course that the Government were now adopting. That is not so. As far as I am aware the hospitals were perfectly satisfied with the conditions that existed, and there was no demand for any legislation such as the Parliamentary Secretary is now sponsoring. There may have been negotiations with the Minister, in the course of the last two weeks, as regards getting back some of the money which the Government has wrongfully attempted to take from them. There was the case last year in which the Minister did take certain moneys for the use of the State which were intended for the hospitals, and there may have been some negotiations, and, with a pistol at their heads, they may have agreed to accept a little, rather than lose all. That possibly was the result of the negotiations that took place in the last few weeks, with regard to the disposal of the moneys of the five sweepstakes that took place before the introduction of this Bill, but there was never any approach to the Minister in the way of approval, or any enthusiasm expressed as regards his action in this matter.
This amendment appears to me necessary if there is to be any reality in Acts passed by this House. We have had Acts of the Oireachtas, after being carefully considered by Deputies here, eventually passed, giving the hospitals of the Free State, through the Hospital Committees, power to engage in sweepstakes as set out in this Act. The conditions under which the sweepstakes were to take place, and the methods on which they were to be run were laid down. Everything was carried out satisfactorily except one item that remained, namely, the disposal of the profits. One might as well suggest, if we are to take this as a precedent for future legislation, that a section, such as the Minister suggests, could be inserted in any measure giving power in regard to any set of people engaged in any undertaking such for instance as the setting up of a beet factory some time ago, to the Minister to be the judge to determine where the profits should go. It would be just as reasonable in regard to any other Act. There is no moral justification, even if the Bill becomes an Act, for the retrospective clauses in it.
The Minister said that nobody suggested that the poor would be any better off under late conditions. I do not think that anybody suggested that they would be worse off. When it is insinuated that nobody is better of, one might draw the inference that they might be worse off. The conditions of the poor must be better as a result of the work of the sweepstakes in the last three or four years. In every hospital to which the sweepstakes apply, there is better provision for the poor. In the matter of general care the poor always got as much attention as the rich, but for comfort much was done for the poor by the application of the sweepstakes, and much more remained to be done by the application of the proceeds which the Minister under this Act is taking from them.
The Minister suggested that there was a danger of the hospitals being equipped out of all proportion to their needs. That was provided against in the former Acts through the experts for which the Minister is now substituting another committee. It was arranged that these experts should undertake the investigation of the needs of the hospitals, and eventually report to the Minister their estimate of the proper needs of the hospitals. As far as I know, these experts can now suggest to the Minister, or to the committees carrying on the hospitals, that no proportion of the five sweepstakes was needed for the hospitals concerned. That section, to my mind, is a violation of Acts passed by this Legislature. It is a precedent for making legislation retrospective in a manner that would be considered, in any Parliament, unworthy of the Ministry. I hope this House, even though the Minister says what cannot be the fact, that this legislation has been enthusiastically supported by the hospitals, will reject this retrospective clause and accept the amendment proposed by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.
I happen to belong to a hospital committee since its formation. I am also a member of the executive of the committee. I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to-day state that that committee welcomed this Bill. I have never missed a meeting of the Hospitals Committee, this year, and only one or two since it was formed, and this is the first time I heard that they welcomed the Bill. The Committee of Reference, that did the work last year, brought up a report admired by everybody who took any interest in the hospitals of the country. The hospital I represent myself was visited by them. They went into everything. They even exceeded their duties in pointing out many little details in connection with the hospital. The groundwork has been done now and, in my opinion, very little more is needed to be done except to visit the hospitals again, and to inspect any new one that may be built. I am aware that the old Committee of Reference is to be dispensed with and a new one put in its place. I did not know that a committee set up by any Government would after such a short term be dismissed for no reason whatever, and a new committee put in its place.
I do not intend to go over any of the ground I covered last night, but I wish to make one or two remarks. In the first place, when I introduced this Bill it was a Private Bill to help the hospitals out of the difficulties they were in at the time. In that Bill there was a provision that 25 per cent. of the beds should be set apart for the poor. That provision is removed in the present Bill before us, so that there is no way by which hospitals can be made to make such provision, so that there is a deficiency there. I want to say, with regard to Sir Patrick Dun's Hospitals, with which I am connected, that we not only gave 30 per cent. of our beds absolutely free, but that another 15 per cent. was given to such classes of the people as were able to pay 10/- a week. I do not think the Government need have any fear that because of the position we were driven into, through the amount of attention that we were giving to the poor, and to the fact that we had £12,000 of an overdraft, that an hospital like that will not in the future, as it did in the past, give fair play to the poor. I am very sorry I used the words that I was not a politician. So far as the introduction of the measure was concerned, there never was the slightest intention on the part of anybody connected with the Committee upon which I was acting as chief to introduce political or religious matters. Anything I did was absolutely free from any taint of political or religious influence. I want to say that anything I said last night had absolutely nothing to do with anything of a political nature.
I do not suppose that it is necessary at this stage to refer to the various speeches that have been made to-day. Most of them were, in substance, made last night. Therefore I do not propose to delay the House very long in dealing with this amendment. If the majority of the House accepted the amendment, the effect would be that the disbursement of moneys accruing from the sweepstakes would take place in the same haphazard fashion in which they have taken place up to the present under existing legislation. I said once or twice during this debate that anybody who has given serious thought to this question agrees that it is necessary to call a halt in the distribution of these moneys until the hospital needs of the community have been surveyed and until we reach a stage at which we can present a thought-out plan of co-ordination for the future. We have heard a lot about the excellence of the former Committee of Reference.
If I may interrupt the Parliamentary Secretary, have not the needs of the hospitals concerned——
Do not bother interrupting the Parliamentary Secretary. I listened to you very patiently and it was a very severe tax upon me.
The Parliamentary Secretary is the model of courtesy.
Have not the needs been surveyed?
I did not hear what the Parliamentary Secretary said.
You will hear me before I am finished.
And you will hear me in reply.
Let me quote from the report of the Committee of Reference for the benefit of Deputies who, apparently, are not familiar with it:
"Manchester November Handicap, 1931.—Considered in its national aspect, the Irish hospitals system reveals a position which is open to certain criticisms. Evidence of this was furnished by the manner in which the claims made by the participating committees were presented to us. Many of these showed an acute lack of appreciation of the proper lines of hospital development in relation to the social and community needs. The main features of the majority of the claims were variously related to a single anxiety —namely, to obtain the largest possible award from sweepstake funds."
That is the report of the Committee of Reference. That is not a speech by the Parliamentary Secretary or the Attorney-General.
"In justification of this anxiety, a programme of building was in most cases hastily considered."
In view of that, we are seriously asked by Deputies on the opposite benches to continue that method of allocation and that method of disbursement.
"In few cases was it attempted to co-ordinate claims with those of other hospitals——"
Are we to co-ordinate the claims in the future or are we to continue to disburse the money on the old system?
"——or to investigate the conditions which a unified policy of development would ensure."
That is from the Committee of Reference — Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney's Committee of Reference and not that very objectionable Committee of Reference recently appointed by the new Minister for Justice. Deputy Sir James Craig had not a lot of confidence, at first, in Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney's Committee of Reference, either. He got to like it as the alliance grew closer. Perhaps he will get to like the new Committee of Reference as time goes on.
The Deputy is not going to leave us so soon. Let me quote an article by a distinguished member of that distinguished Committee of Reference—Mr. Vincent O'Kelly. It is written in relation to this Bill—this revolutionary measure of ours:
"The prudence of the Government's decision is obvious if the dissipation of sweepstake funds is to be avoided and the danger of reduplication and confusion to be overcome."
That is by a member of the Committee of Reference.
"It is clear that lasting benefit and economy in the administration of the health services, public and private, can only accrue from expert and timely examination of hospital needs."
I could quote from a speech by the President of the Royal College of Surgeons, who also believes in the advisability of setting up this Hospitals Commission. I suggest that these opinions ought to weigh with Deputies on the opposite benches. I confess that they are not the opinions that prompted me to introduce the measure. If the question before the House has been approached in a non-political spirit, I think these opinions ought to weigh with Deputies. It is admitted by everybody that the Committee of Reference, in determining what proportion of a particular sweep ought to be allocated to a particular hospital, were guided and had to be guided by the estimated needs of the hospital as a going concern regardless of whether a similar institution, similarly equipped, might not be, perhaps in the very same street, treating and dealing with exactly similar types of case. Once again, let me say that we want to get a survey of the hospital needs of the community. When we get that survey and when we shall have reviewed the existing accommodation and equipment at the disposal of the community, we shall be in a position to see what further extension of our hospitals system will be necessary and in what direction it should be made. To do that, it is necessary that this section should stand unamended in the Bill.
In the speech to which he has just treated the House the Parliamentary Secretary did not touch upon the question before the House at all. He kept completely off it. He talked about a future committee of reference dealing with the hospitals, and thought that such a committee was required. It may be required, or it may not be. That is not the question before the House. It had nothing to do with the question before the House. The question before the House is, whether this Bill is going to be made retrospective, and whether moneys are going to be appropriated for purposes for which they were not designed.
The question before the House is that these moneys, which are for certain participating hospitals, are going to be, by retrospective legislation, taken away from them. That is a matter the Parliamentary Secretary did not deal with at all, because, so far as I could gather, he seemed to consider that he can substitute any moment he likes, insolence for argument. It has been stated that this amendment was introduced for political purposes. I said very definitely when I was introducing it, that there was nothing I wanted less than political advantage. I made an appeal last night, as moderate and temperate an appeal as could be made, to the Parliamentary Secretary, to fling aside political considerations, and simply to treat this as a non-political matter, having regard to the very strong body of feeling that there was in this country. Is it fair for the Parliamentary Secretary or the Attorney-General to get up in this House and to say that this is actuated by political motives? I could forgive the Attorney-General because he was not here, and did not know, but the Parliamentary Secretary was here, and he knows perfectly well, after my speech last night, that if he had got up and said: "I accept this amendment," there would be no political advantage to any Party, and there could not be. I had deliberately made it plain that there could not be, yet we get this new form of controversy, in the teeth of all that, that the matter was brought forward for political purposes.
I am going to deal with the Attorney-General's arguments in a few moments. I want to deal with a matter which, in itself, is almost irrelevant to this issue, but to which the Parliamentary Secretary was pleased to refer, that I appointed a Committee of Reference and that they were paid certain sums for producing three reports. They were, and they did the work—excellent work. They were paid for that work, but they were not paid out of the proportion to the work they did. I am perfectly willing to stand over both appointments. I can go further and pride myself on the wisdom of the selection of the three gentlemen who composed the Committee of Reference. They were paid for doing the work. What is this new body to be paid for? The scheme under which they were appointed is to be scrapped. I do not care what committee was appointed. I do not care if the old committee was appointed. If you intended to scrap the old Acts, and intended to enact Section 4, I do not care whether this new committee or the old committee or any other committee was appointed but it was wrong to appoint a committee and to pay these large sums of money, when the intention was to abolish the posts they held next day. That is wrong. That is the complaint I made, and it is the complaint I stand over. I say that is utterly wrong. The Parliamentary Secretary says that they will only be paid in proportion to the work. Where does he get that? What is his authority for saying it? If you appoint men to do work, not by the year but by piece-work as they are appointed, and then take away the possibility of carrying out the piece-work, you are liable to them in full for the money. They are entitled, under the terms of their appointment, one to £1,000 and the others to £800.
You may break faith with them. I do not know what was the sanction appointing them. I will not press that further. The Parliamentary Secretary did not appoint them. That is a matter which can be discussed in another place at another time. I want to get a little further. The Attorney-General gets up here and says that he has got a precedent for making it retrospective in the previous Acts. That is not so. What is being done here? Three schemes have been sanctioned; two have been completely finished, and the third is almost finished. To divert the money from the channels through which it should flow under these schemes is retrospective legislation. What analogy has that got with what was done under the Public Charitable Hospitals (Amendment) Act, 1931? What happened then? On the 1st May, 1931 a Bill was introduced to this House which dealt with absolutely no scheme that had been sanctioned at the time. There was a scheme in contemplation, but it had never been sanctioned. Only certain persons could be participants in the scheme at the time, and the promoters were there and then told when the Bill was circulated, and if they wished to go on with their scheme they would have to take other persons in afterwards. That is quite a different matter. If there had been no deception of the promoters, if they were told to go on with the scheme and that they would get the money; and if they were told afterwards they would not, that would be a different thing. No promoters and none of the public were deceived, or could be deceived. No scheme that was sanctioned before the introduction of the Act was touched in the slightest bit. It was very carefully stated—and the Bill was introduced on the 1st May —that it would only apply to schemes after the introduction, and the date was fixed for the day before, the 30th April. What analogy is that? If the Parliamentary Secretary came to this House, dealing with the Cambridgeshire Sweep, and said: "Let us amend the Bill as far as that sweep is concerned"—I do not know whether the scheme has been sanctioned or not, but if it has been sanctioned, it would be a very much stronger thing than was done in the Public Hospitals Act of 1931. If the Cambridgeshire scheme had not been sanctioned at the time the Bill was introduced, then I would say there was nothing retrospective, nothing unfair, nothing unjust, and no underhand dealing. That would be a complete analogy. But that is absolutely different to the unfair and underhand dealing going on with reference to the schemes which have been already sanctioned, under which persons have purchased tickets.
Is the Deputy contending that the legal position is any different?
Certainly. The legal position is different from the moral position. I know the Attorney-General is a great authority on propositions which he put forward in this House, that the moment you get power to do anything, then you have a right to do it, and, of course, because we have power here this House has got power to confiscate money. Therefore he has a moral right to do it. I know that that is the Attorney-General's contention, and that it has been put forward again and again.
That is what the Deputy did under the 1932 Act.
I did nothing of the kind. Not one penny of the money spent under the scheme was misappropriated. The public were told that there was a scheme which was going to be sanctioned, and that it was going to be amended in the immediate future. There was no deception. That is an absolutely different thing. Here there has been gross deception if this section becomes law. I endeavoured in as conciliatory a fashion as it could be done last night to get the Parliamentary Secretary to accept this amendment. I see now that there is absolutely no hope of his accepting the amendment. I say this much, and I say it deliberately, that every single member of the Fianna Fáil Party who votes for the Parliamentary Secretary's attitude in this matter is conniving at a fraud.
Question—"That the words proposed to be deleted stand"—put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 64; Níl, 43.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Bartley, Gerald.
- Beegan, Patrick.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Bourke, Daniel.
- Brady, Seán.
- Breathnach, Cormac.
- Breen, Daniel.
- Briscoe, Robert.
- Browne, William Frazer.
- Concannon, Helena.
- Corkery, Daniel.
- Corry, Martin John.
- Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
- Crowley, Timothy.
- Daly, Denis.
- Davin, William.
- Derrig, Thomas.
- Doherty, Hugh.
- Dowdall, Thomas P.
- Flynn, John.
- Fogarty, Andrew.
- Gibbons, Seán.
- Goulding, John.
- Hales, Thomas.
- Harris, Thomas.
- Hayes, Seán.
- Houlihan, Patrick.
- Jordan, Stephen.
- Keely, Séamus P.
- Kehoe, Patrick.
- Kelly, James Patrick.
- Kelly, Thomas.
- Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
- Keyes, Michael.
- Kilroy, Michael.
- Kissane, Eamonn.
- Lemass, Seán F.
- Little, Patrick John.
- Lynch, James B.
- MacEntee, Seán.
- Maguire, Ben.
- Maguire, Conor Alexander.
- Moore, Séamus.
- Moylan, Seán.
- Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
- Norton, William.
- O'Dowd, Patrick.
- O'Grady, Seán.
- O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
- O'Reilly, Matthew.
- Pattison, James P.
- Pearse, Margaret Mary.
- Rice, Edward.
- Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
- Ryan, James.
- Ryan, Martin.
- Ryan, Robert.
- Sheridan, Michael.
- Smith, Patrick.
- Traynor, Oscar.
- Victory, James.
- Walsh, Richard.
- Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
- Beckett, James Walter.
- Bennett, George Cecil.
- Brennan, Michael.
- Brodrick, Seán.
- Burke, James Michael.
- Burke, Patrick.
- Cosgrave, William T.
- Craig, Sir James.
- Curran, Richard.
- Davis, Michael.
- Davitt, Robert Emmet.
- Kent, William Rice.
- Lynch, Finian.
- McDonogh, Martin.
- McGovern, Patrick.
- McGuire, James Ivan.
- McMenamin, Daniel.
- Morrisroe, James.
- Morrissey, Daniel.
- Mulcahy, Richard.
- Nally, Martin.
- O'Connor, Batt.
- Desmond, William.
- Dolan, James Nicholas.
- Doyle, Peadar S.
- Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
- Fagan, Charles.
- Finlay, John.
- Fitzgerald, Desmond.
- Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
- Good, John.
- Holohan, Richard.
- Keating, John.
- O'Leary, Daniel.
- O'Mahony, The.
- O'Neill, Eamonn.
- O'Sullivan, Gearoid.
- O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
- Redmond, Bridget Mary.
- Reidy, James.
- Rice, Vincent.
- Rogers, Patrick James.
- Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Traynor; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Words ordered to stand part of the Section.
Section 4 agreed to.
(1) Whenever the governing body of a hospital (other than a hospital under the control of a local authority or a county infirmary or a county fever hospital) or the governing bodies of two or more such hospitals desires or desire to hold a sweepstake under this Act to raise money for the purposes of the Hospitals Trust Fund, such governing body or bodies (in this Act referred to as the organisers) may appoint for the purpose of such sweepstake a committee (in this Act referred to as a sweepstake committee), of such number and of such persons as the organisers may think proper, to manage and control such sweepstake.
(4) No member of a sweepstake committee shall receive any remuneration for acting as a member of such committee or for any services rendered or work done by him in relation to the sweepstake for the purposes of which such committee was appointed.
I move amendment 3:—
In sub-section (1), page 3, lines 60 and 61, to delete the words "a sweepstake" and substitute the word "sweepstakes," and in page 4, to delete the word "sweepstake," where it occurs in lines 2 and 5 and substitute the word "sweepstakes" in both places.
A similar amendment is down in the name of Deputy Sir James Craig. Under the existing Act a new sweepstake committee was appointed for each sweepstake by the committee of the hospitals. It is intended to secure under the new legislation that it will not be necessary for the promoting committee to appoint a new committee for each sweepstake.
I agree with the amendment moved by the Parliamentary Secretary.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment 4:—
In sub-section (4), page 4, lines 13 and 14, to delete the word "sweepstake" and substitute the word "sweepstakes."
This amendment is consequential on the other.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment 5:—
In page 4, to add at the end of the section two new sub-sections as follows:—
"(5) If the Minister for Justice by direction in writing delivered at the address of a sweepstake committee or posted to such address so directs, or if the organisers by which a sweepstake committee was appointed by direction in writing delivered at or posted to such address so direct, or if a sweepstake committee by passing a resolution so decides such sweepstake committee shall not, after the date of receiving from the said Minister or from such organisers such direction or of passing such resolution, submit to the Minister for Justice under this Act any scheme in respect of any sweepstake, and shall continue to be a sweepstake committee only for the purposes of any sweepstake in respect of which a scheme had been submitted to the Minister for Justice under this Act by such sweepstake committee prior to such date, and such sweepstake committee shall as from such date be dissolved for all other purposes.
(6) No sweepstake committee shall be appointed under this section while any other sweepstake committee is in existence unless such other sweepstake committee has, under the foregoing sub-section, received a direction from the Minister for Justice or from the organisers by whom such sweepstake committee was appointed, or has passed a resolution under that sub-section."
It is intended that the committee appointed shall continue to act until such time as the Minister for Justice or the governing bodies of the hospitals or the committee itself thinks that the time has come to appoint a new committee. It is the desire of the existing committee to have the law altered so that a committee once appointed can carry through one or more sweepstakes. At the same time it is necessary to provide machinery for the termination of office of the sweepstake committee at some time. That is the intention of the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 5, as amended, agreed to.
A sweepstake committee appointed for the purpose of a sweepstake shall prepare and submit to the Minister for Justice a scheme specifying in relation to such sweepstake the following matters, that is to say:—
I move amendment 6:—
In page 4, to delete line 15 and substitute the following words "Whenever organisers who have appointed a sweepstake committee propose to hold a particular", and in line 16 before the word "shall" to insert the words "such sweepstake committee."
This is consequential on amendment 5.
How will this amendment work in with amendment 4? It seems to me to be rather contradictory. As far as I understand, amendment 4 contemplates that several sweepstakes are going to be sanctioned together. Section 6, as amended, will read: "Whenever organisers who have appointed a sweepstake committee propose to hold a particular sweepstake such sweepstake committee shall" do all the various things set out. Where they propose not to hold a particular sweepstake but two or three sweepstakes, it would seem that this section does not apply at all, and I am sure that can hardly be the Parliamentary Secretary's intention.
I am advised by the legal advisers that this amendment is necessary. The other section, as I understand it, makes it possible to have the same committee appointed to carry out more than one sweepstake, but in carrying out a particular sweepstake— one of a number of sweepstakes that they propose to carry out—they shall do in respect of each particular sweepstake the things set out here.
Then the effect of amendment 4 is not that several schemes will be sanctioned at the same time.
And even though the committee are appointed for carrying out schemes they will have to submit each fresh scheme. Their appointment will not specify the number that they are to carry out.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 6, as amended, agreed to.
I move amendment 7:—
At the end of sub-section (1) to add the words: "Provided always that the said Minister shall not sanction more than three schemes in any one year."
The object of this amendment is, as I outlined in my Second Reading speech, that not more than three schemes shall be sanctioned in any particular year. The last amendment moved by the Parliamentary Secretary meets a considerable number of the objections I had to the Bill as it originally stood, and I am glad that that view is being taken by the Parliamentary Secretary. In face of the alterations which have been made in the Bill I do not mind very much whether this provision is inserted or not, and while I do not mean to press it very strongly I think it would be an improvement.
As the Deputy is aware, the Minister for Justice is not obliged to sanction every scheme put up to him. He may if he so thinks proper. I think it is highly unlikely that more than three schemes will be submitted to the Minister for his approval in any one year, but, at any rate, I do not see that there can be any possible risk in leaving a discretion in the hands of the Minister for Justice to decide the number of sweeps that can with advantage be run. I am sure that if he is advised that a sweepstake on a particular race is not likely to be a financial success he will not sanction the scheme.
I shall not press the matter unduly, because the main object I had in proposing the amendment is really carried out by the amendment of the Parliamentary Secretary.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 7 to 9, inclusive, ordered to stand Part of the Bill.
Question proposed: "That Section 10 stand Part of the Bill."
I think that sub-section (3) of this section is altogether unnecessary. It states:—
(3) No advertisement, memorandum, circular, book of tickets, ticket, or other document issued in relation to a sweepstake by the sweepstake committee for such sweepstake shall contain any words indicating or which could reasonably be construed as indicating that such sweepstake is being held under the auspices or patronage of the Government of Saorstát Eireann or of any Minister head of a Department of State.
I consider that nothing but a sort of camouflage, but I have no amendment to it.
It is scarcely necessary to reply to the Deputy. Sub-section (3) of Section 7 of the Act of 1930 contains exactly the same provision in precisely the same words.
That was a different thing.
The Deputy was then in a different position.
That was a Private Member's Bill. This is quite a different thing.
Section 10 to 12, inclusive, ordered to stand Part of the Bill.
(3) If a sweepstake committee makes default in complying with this section, each member of such committee shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding 50 pounds, and in the case of a continuing offence to a further fine not exceeding five pounds for every day during which the offence is committed.
I move amendment No. 8:—
To delete sub-section (3).
I think that this sub-section is unnecessary. The Hospitals Trust indemnifies the sweeps committee. I shall not press the matter very strongly, but I believe it is unnecessary because the Hospitals Trust have the committee indemnified against any default on their part.
I do not think there is any real necessity to retain this sub-section in the Bill, and I am prepared to accept the amendment.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Question—"That Section 13, as amended, stand Part of the Bill"— put and agreed to.
(1) As soon as conveniently may be after the passing of this Act the Minister shall by order establish a Commission which shall be styled "the Hospitals Commission" and shall consist of not less than three ordinary members of whom one shall be the chairman of the Commission.
(6) For the purposes of performing his duties under this Act every member of the Hospitals Commission may visit all or any of the premises of any hospital, and shall be entitled to inspect and examine such premises and the fittings and equipment thereof, and shall also be entitled to call for and be furnished with full information in relation to the management and the financial position of any hospital and to see and examine all accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the governing body of such hospital and also all or any books and other documents containing any record of such receipts and expenditure.
(7) Each member of the Hospitals Commission shall be paid such (if any) remuneration as the Minister shall from time to time direct.
I move amendment No. 9:—
In sub-section (1) to delete the words "not less than three ordinary members," line 4, and substitute the words "five ordinary members who shall be persons of experience in hospital administration and policy, and two shall be qualified medical practitioners and."
My amendment is to erase the word "three" in the sub-section and to substitute the word "five." That is, that five members shall be appointed on the Hospitals Commission, of whom two shall be fully qualified medical practitioners.
As the section stands there is nothing to prevent the appointment of five ordinary members if it is considered necessary to have as large a membership as that. I think if every possible interest were to be represented on the Hospitals Commission it would become a very unwieldy body. If we were to approach the question from that point of view it would, I think, be necessary to go far outside the scope of the amendment. If it is necessary to have it enshrined in the Bill that two members of the Commission of five should be medical practitioners and that that particular interest should be specifically protected by legislation, a case could be made for having a specific representative from boards of health, from the voluntary hospitals and from the nursing organisations. In fact, in that event I think a strong case could be made for having representatives from professional or technical organisations such as architects and engineers. If that were contemplated, I am afraid the Hospitals Commission would become so unwieldy that we would be very slow to extract any practical results from its deliberations. I think that, at any rate, for some time, until the field of operations has been surveyed, the normal number of members of the Commission will be five. The Bill says not less than three, but it will be necessary, in the preliminary stages at any rate, to have a minimum of five.
Would any of these be medical practitioners?
It will be necessary to have medical men on it to act in an advisory capacity and to interpret the technical evidence that will be put before the Commission by experts.
I should like to be clear on this because the last thing the Parliamentary Secretary said was that there would be two medical men to act in an advisory capacity. Deputy Sir James Craig has down two amendments, one to Section 15 and the other to Section 14. I should like to be clear which amendment the Parliamentary Secretary is accepting.
I am not accepting either as a matter of fact but I am indicating to Deputy Sir James Craig what the constitution of the Hospitals Commission probably will be. When I said that they would be there in an advisory capacity what I meant to convey was that their special technical knowledge would be at the disposal of the members. They will be there with the full rights of members and their technical knowledge will be at the disposal of the lay members for their guidance. The Commission as a whole will act as jurors in weighing up the evidence put before them.
I do not know whether the Minister has made up his mind at all as to who will be appointed as, what he now calls, lay members of the Commission.
The personnel has not yet been decided upon.
I should like to know from the Minister if he could give us some indication of the qualifications he will look for. I know that, in appointing the advisory committee under the previous Acts, what we looked to get was one man of general administrative experience who would be chairman of the body, and, as the Parliamentary Secretary knows, we were fortunate enough to get the services of an ex-member of the Executive Council who had been in control of a very important Department of State. Then we looked also to get an architect who would be able to report on the structural conditions of the various hospitals and we looked, in the third place, to get an accountant who would be able to go into and study carefully the financial position of the various hospitals. That was the basis on which the advisory committee was set up. Of course, I see that if the Minister is going to evolve a scheme, that is going to be a large one, of coordinating hospitals, and that sort of thing, he will want some expert advice in that matter.
The advisory committee's primary object was to advise the Minister as to how certain sums of money were to be divided among the participating hospitals. This committee will have very much wider functions and I understand quite well that two qualified medical practitioners ought, probably, to be added to the list. Of course, when it came to the question of dividing between the hospitals, expert medical knowledge would not have been of any importance and any medical practitioner appointed would have been in a very awkward position because his own hospital would always be one of the participating hospitals. The position would have been very awkward, therefore, for everybody concerned. I, personally, approve of the addition of two medical men in the present circumstances where there will not be the same competition between hospitals that there was before, but I should like to know what are the qualifications the Minister will look for. I do not ask for anything definite but I should like to know what qualifications he will seek when making his selection.
Might I ask whether the Parliamentary Secretary is accepting the proposal of an advisory committee of medical men or not? I an anxious to get two medical men in some capacity, and, so long as the Minister is satisfied to put two of them along with the three ordinary men, I am satisfied, but I should like to know whether he is accepting this proposal.
We can scarcely discuss that at this stage.
I was merely trying to hurry up things.
The Parliamentary Secretary will not answer my query?
How on earth could I define at this stage, in the middle of the Committee Stage debate, what will be the qualifications of the personnel of the committee?
What qualifications would you look to in making your selection?
That is a consideration which I presume the Deputy would consider to be a qualification. I am not one of those who think so.
This Government seems to think that it is the only essential qualification.
I noticed that while the Bill was being discussed, the Deputy did not spend much time in the House.
The Deputy was listening with great interest to the Parliamentary Secretary on the back gallery.
I should have loved to have been looking at him. It is rather a pity that he was at the rear. He seldom takes a back seat.
There are certain people and it really does not make much difference which side one sees, and the Deputy is one of them.
As I was endeavouring to explain to Deputy Fitzgerald when his colleague interrupted me, general suitability would be taken into consideration. I think that the personnel will have to be selected with great deliberation and care. It appears to me that they are undertaking a tremendous responsibility. The task that is being imposed on them is an enormous task, and if suitable persons are not appointed we will not get the results we hope to get. Personally, I hope to see that the persons appointed on that Commission will be persons capable of securing the best possible results that can be secured.
Would the Parliamentary Secretary agree to appoint a lawyer?
I move amendment No. 10:—
In sub-section (6), after the words "any hospital," line 25, to insert the words "which shall have participated in any sweepstake promoted under the Public Charitable Hospitals Acts, 1930 to 1932, or under this Act, or which shall have applied for a grant out of the Hospitals Trust Fund under Section 23 hereof or of any institution under the control of or assisted by local authorities."
This refers to the examination by the Commission of the various hospitals and the amendment proposes to exclude hospitals that have not been participating in the sweepstake. This is an amendment sent forward, as a matter of fact, by the hospitals subcommittee.
There is no objection to the amendment and we are prepared to accept it.
Amendment 10 agreed to.
I move amendment 11:—
At the end of sub-section (7), to add the words: "Provided always that the remuneration payable to any member of the Hospitals Commission shall not exceed £500 per annum."
This amendment raises the question as to what salary is to be paid to members of the Hospitals Commission. I put the amendment down, having regard to the terms of sub-section (3) of this section, which provides that the Minister, whenever in his opinion circumstances so require, may by order appoint such and so many persons as he may think fit to be additional members of the Hospitals Commission for a specified time. We are left completely in the dark as to what the Minister intends to do under that section. We do not know how many persons he intends to appoint and I should like to repeat the query put by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney as to what are the qualifications that will be looked to first. One must have doubts as to what qualifications would be considered essential having regard to the things that have happened. The previous Committee of Reference was recently replaced by three other gentlemen. No one was surprised at that, although the previous Committee had done their work with complete satisfaction to everybody. That system, however, has gone further, because the secretary, who also had given complete satisfaction, was dismissed from his position within an hour after the new three members were installed by the Minister. He was told that he had given the highest satisfaction in carrying out his duties but he was dismissed. One is curious under these circumstances to know what are the necessary qualifications to be expected from members of this Commission and, if it is not irrelevant to the amendment before the House, what are supposed to be the qualifications of a secretary to this Commission who, having given complete satisfaction and being so informed——
It does not arise on this.
When the view was taken by the new members that the secretary ought to be immediately dismissed, being a perfectly efficient person, one must be curious to know— and this is relevant—what will be the qualifications of the members to be appointed under sub-section (3), and what will be their number, having regard to the fact that there is nothing defined as to what their remuneration is to be.
The salaries of the members of the Committee of Reference are not fixed in the existing Acts, and there appears to me to be no adequate reason why a maximum salary should be fixed for the members of the Hospitals Commission. During the Second Reading debate Deputy Good spoke about membership of the Hospitals Commission as being a job for a superman. I think Deputy Rice will scarcely contend that the service of a superman can be secured for a salary of £500 a year.
It probably will be necessary that membership of the Commission be, for a considerable period, whole time. If we fixed in this Bill a maximum salary of £500 a year and expected to get the type of man who will be necessary in order to produce satisfactory results, I think we would be disappointed. I do not think any case can be made for fixing the salary at the figure suggested by the Deputy. Perhaps I might remind him that it is a much lower scale of remuneration than was paid to the members of the Committee of Reference who were appointed under the previous administration for part-time services. Two members of that Committee were paid at the rate of £1,000 a year, and the third member was paid at the rate of £1,500 a year. It is very hard to understand why Deputy Rice should say that members of the Hospitals Commission, who will probably, for a considerable time, at any rate, be whole time, should not receive any greater remuneration than £500 a year. He seems to assume that this Government cannot secure the services of anybody, apparently, who would attract a larger salary in any other branch of life. That is an entirely wrong assumption.
I agree if a person is to give whole time service, the sum I suggest is utterly inadequate. I was prompted to raise this question by the fact that power is taken under sub-section (3) to appoint an indefinite number of persons to the Hospitals Commission. The money is to come out of the fund for the hospitals. If the Parliamentary Secretary likes to appoint 20 additional members he is in a position to do so. The whole time gentlemen will eventually be reduced to one hour a day or less, according as the Parliamentary Secretary desires to exercise his power. I am curious to know what the Parliamentary Secretary proposes to do. I do not put forward the proposition that £500 a year should be paid, or would be a proper sum to be paid, to persons giving their whole time to the occupation; but the elasticity introduced into the section is such that I think the House is entitled to know what the Parliamentary Secretary intends to do as regards the number of persons to be appointed.
I would like to point out that while the Parliamentary Secretary says the members of the original Hospitals Commission were appointed at so much a year he does not tell the House that they were appointed at rates varying with the different sweepstakes. On the occasion of the first sweepstake they received very much higher remuneration than for any other sweepstake, the reason being that in the case of the first sweepstake there was really heavy work. The groundwork had to be done, the report was a heavy report, and the remuneration they received was necessarily on a whole-time basis. It was very hard to estimate how long it would take them. As a matter of fact it did take a considerable amount of time from the date of their appointment until the first report made its appearance. I think it took over a year before they were in a position to bring out the first report. The subsequent reports, for which they were paid at a lesser rate, were less heavy.
Here you start off in an absolutely different position. The spade-work has been very nearly done. A survey has been made of our existing hospitals, and the very admirable work done by the advisory committee has made the duties of any Commission now coming along much easier. I fail to see why work on the Hospitals Commission should now be regarded as necessarily a whole-time job. It might be whole-time for a very short period until the members master the reports of the advisory committee, but from that onwards they will have nearly all the material before them. If the members of the new Commission are whole-time and are competent men, men with considerable experience, professional men, they will, I agree, deserve special consideration. There is nothing in the section which says that one of the members should be a medical man or that there should be a qualification of any kind, but if you are going to have a doctor serving whole-time, other than a retired doctor, most certainly he would have to receive a higher remuneration than £500. We would like to know, apart from the medical members, whether the other members of the Commission will be worth more. Are they going to be persons of experience?
Is the Deputy pressing the amendment?
I would like to get an answer as to what the Parliamentary Secretary proposes to do, what number of persons he proposes to appoint. The whole question seems to turn on how many persons he intends to appoint under a sub-section which gives him unlimited power of appointment.
I dealt with that matter already in reply to Deputy Sir James Craig. The Bill provides for a Commission of not less than three. I believe the normal number of the Commission will be five and the normal constitution of the Commission of five will be two medical men and three laymen.
The sub-section gives unlimited power of appointment. Why should it not provide that the additional members should not exceed two?
It is the matter of remuneration we are on now.
I am on the matter of remuneration and I say a great deal turns on the point whether you appoint five or 15. If the sub-section provided that the number would be limited to five I should not have raised this question.
Question:—"That the words proposed be there inserted"—put and negatived.
Section 14, as amended, agreed to.
(1) The Hospitals Commission shall be entitled to employ such and so many officers and servants (including as and when necessary professional or technical advisers) at such remuneration and on such terms as such Commission shall, with the sanction of the Minister, think proper and, with such sanction, to dismiss any such officer or servant.
(2) The Hospitals Commission shall be entitled to receive from the Minister such facilities and from the officers of the Minister such assistance as the Minister shall direct.
(3) Every member and every officer of the Hospitals Commission, when travelling in performance of his duties as such member or officer, shall be entitled to receive and be paid travelling expenses and maintenance allowance at such rate as shall be sanctioned by the Minister.
I move amendment 12.
Before section 15 to insert a new section as follows:—
"A sweepstake committee shall nominate five qualified medical practitioners to form a panel from which the Minister shall select three persons to act as an advisory committee to the Hospitals Commission.
(6) Every member of the advisory committee shall, unless he previously dies, resigns, or is removed from office by the Minister, retain office as such member for one year from the date of his appointment, but shall be eligible for reappointment.
(7) The Minister may at any time by order remove any member of the advisory committee from his office as such member.
(8) Each member of the advisory committee shall be paid such remuneration as the Minister shall from time to time direct."
This amendment has been pressed upon me very strongly, and I have been asked to urge the Parliamentary Secretary to accept it. As he knows, there are many points likely to arise, particulary, in connection with research work. The profession, in general, think that a considerable amount of help could be given by an advisory committee of this sort to the general committee—that is, to the Hospitals Commission. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary if he has carefully considered whether it would not be a very useful thing to have this advisory committee available to give advice to the Hospitals Commission, particularly as I think he has not made up his mind with regard to research work and work of that kind?
The Bill proposes to set up one advisory committee, namely, the Hospitals Commission. This amendment proposes to set up a medical committee to advise the Hospitals Commission. That appears to me to be setting up rather a complicated machine. As I stated to-day in regard to another amendment in the Deputy's name, if the principle is admitted that the various hospitals' interests are to be represented on the Hospitals Commission, we must consider the architects, engineers and nurses. We had an application already from the nursing organisation to have their interests represented by a member on the Hospitals Commission.
Personally, I think I may cut the matter short by saying I was contented enough when the Parliamentary Secretary said that when the Commission was appointed, he probably would appoint two medical men to give advice there. Personally, I do not now see the necessity for the advisory committee suggested in the amendment as strongly as if that promise was not given. But I was urged to press this matter on the Parliamentary Secretary.
I must frankly say that on these two amendments, that is amendments 9 and 12, in view of the discussion that has taken place here I am rather coming round to the view that 12 would be preferable to number 9, because the Parliamentary Secretary has told us that this Hospitals Commission will now have to be permanent, or that, at any rate, for a considerable time it will be permanent. When I come to consider that there are to be two permanent doctors upon this Hospitals Commission as long as it lasts, and that these will be on a non-pensionable basis, I am beginning to wonder very much if the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to get what I will call two leaders of the medical profession to act upon that basis; whereas on the advisory committee even medical men who are leaders of surgery, medicine or research in this country may be able to devote the much less time which may be required by being simply on the advisory committee. This committee will be asked to make suggestions possibly, and they will really be asked for advice upon the concrete propositions which will be put up before the Commission. It certainly seems to me, if you are going to deal with the question of research purely as a medical question, as well as the organisations of hospitals, that there is a great deal to be said for this advisory committee, having regard to the fact that the medical men will be permanent men, and will not and could not be expected to be the real leaders of the medical men in the country.
I do not think there is anything further to be said in relation to this. Quite obviously it will be open to the entire medical profession to place their evidence before the Hospitals Commission in regard to any particular branch of medical science, whether research or any other branch. We think it would be a dangerous thing to select a further advisory committee to the Hospitals Commission consisting of a number of medical experts, no two of whom would agree.
With an advisory committee of three or five there would be a majority of one.
The fact that the medical profession will be adequately represented in the personnel of the Commission, ought I think, to satisfy the Deputies here. I confess one of the greatest anxieties I had about the Committee of Reference was the fact that they were laymen, and that no medical man was on that Committee. But the balance of two medical men in a Hospitals Commission of five, will, I believe, in all the circumstances, secure the expert advice that will be necessary anyhow from the medical profession. I have no doubt, in practice, it will work out so that the various medical experts in the Free State area and particularly in and around the City of Dublin, will undoubtedly avail of the opportunity of placing their views on this complicated and difficult question before the Hospitals Commission for their guidance.
This is largely a medical matter, and Deputy Sir James Craig knows more about it than I do, but it occurred to me that there could be a board of medical practitioners not nominated by the sweepstake commission, but by the governing bodies of medical schools, such as the College of Surgeons and the College of Physicians. Some other bodies could, with these, nominate the members to form the committee. I am offering this as a suggestion.
I still feel that there is something in what Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney said, that the Minister will find it hard to get two medical men of any great capacity to take a permanent job that is non-pensionable. That is the difficulty.
I would like to point out that there is such a recommendation made in one of the three reports from the Committee of Reference. I do not know in which report. That report was made in connection with a Committee of Research and as such it should carry weight. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the matter very carefully before he makes up his mind. If it were left to the medical profession to put up proposals perhaps it might be better. As regards the question of agreement I do not know but the Minister may modify his views. It may be that there are matters that have not been ventilated sufficiently in connection with hospitalisation. These matters would be ventilated in a committee of that sort on which a considerable body of opinion would be represented. Very valuable recommendations would be made to the Hospitals Commission by such an advisory body. The fact that you had two medical members on the Hospitals Commission itself would not, I think, satisfy the views that are really enshrined in this particular amendment. When talking of two medical men, I presume one of them would be a physician and the other a surgeon.
Not necessarily, but it would probably be one's first inclination in making the appointments that one should be a physician and the other a surgeon. There has been a remarkable development in connection with surgery in recent years. I think that an advisory body such as this would be of considerable use and if it is not there, I doubt very much if recommendations will come from the medical profession. It is a matter the Parliamentary Secretary might reasonably consider between this and the Report Stage.
I have given a good deal of consideration to this amendment since it was circulated, and I am not convinced that it is necessary, or that it would be any improvement on the Bill. I do seriously think that there would be a danger in accepting it. I do not agree with Deputy Cosgrave that the medical profession will not come before the Hospitals Commission and act in an advisory capacity unless some such committee is set up. I believe the medical profession will be glad to avail of the opportunity of acting in an advisory capacity—the entire medical profession, not a selection of five. I cannot see how we could resist the claims of other sectional interests, as I said, such as nurses, architects, etc., if we opened up this avenue. If the medical profession go before the Hospitals Commission and place their life-long experience of the subject under examination before them, I cannot see that everything could not be gained from the medical profession in that way that can possibly be gained by setting up a special committee—a paid committee at that. The sweepstakes committee, or the promoting committee, at present could nominate an advisory committee that would be unpaid, a purely voluntary committee. There is nothing to prevent the associated hospitals selecting an advisory committee to place the views of the associated hospitals, as a whole, before the Hospitals Commission. That could be done without having any special clause inserted in the Bill, such as is suggested. I do not think any useful purpose would be served by postponing a decision on the principle raised here to a later stage of the Bill.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments 13 to 18, inclusive, not moved.
Sections 15 and 16 put and agreed to.
On Section 17, I should like to say that the Parliamentary Secretary gave me an assurance last night that if there were any other sections of the Bill, besides the one which Deputy Sir James Craig's amendment No. 10 referred to, he would be willing to consider the matter I raised. This section does require some such amendment as that. The principle is that the non-participating hospitals should not come under the scope of the Bill. I think Section 17 would bring them definitely under it, and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider whether he should not himself bring forward on the Report Stage the necessary amendments to exclude the non-participating hospitals. This gives the Hospitals Commission the right to deal with the non-participating hospitals, just in the same way as the participating hospitals.
I think the Parliamentary Secretary knows what the point is, that the Hospitals Commission has to perform certain functions. Those functions are to examine hospitals and nursing institutions. What we want is a proviso put in so that hospitals which are not receiving any money from the sweepstakes shall not be subject to investigation by the Hospitals Commission.
I quite understand the point, but I think amendment 10, which I accepted, covers it.
It is not quite the same.
If it is not quite the same, I will have the matter looked into. I am quite prepared to concede the point that Deputy Thrift made.
If the Parliamentary Secretary will consider it, I am satisfied he will find it necessary.
If I am advised by my legal advisers that it is not necessary. My present impression is that it is not.
What Deputy Thrift said last night should not be lost sight of in this connection. I agree with him that it would be simpler if, in the definition section, it was made perfectly clear that the provisions of the Bill shall not apply to the non-participating hospitals. That would very shortly and concisely do the work.
I believe that is the right way to do it.
We will have that matter examined.
Sections 17 and 18 put and agreed to.
(1) As soon as conveniently may be after the passing of this Act, the Minister shall by order establish a body of three trustees, to be styled the National Hospital Trustees, to exercise the powers and perform the duties assigned to them by this Act.
. . . . . .
I move amendment 19:—
In sub-section (1), line 42, to delete the word "three" and substitute the word "five."
It was the intention in the original draft of the Bill to confine the number of trustees to three. On further consideration, however, it appears to be advisable in order to meet the wishes of the associated hospitals that the original number of five should be retained.
I agree with that. As far as our experience goes from the beginning of the sweepstakes, nothing got greater support for the sweepstake than the names that appeared on the tickets as trustees—men who were known practically all over the world. I would impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary the necessity, if he is appointing new trustees, to get men whose names will stand for something before the sporting world. I am afraid that none of the trustees who are acting at present will accept the position under the new Act. At all events, I want to impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary the necessity of appointing public men who stand for something.
These are voluntary, unpaid positions?
Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 19, as amended, put and agreed to.
Sections 20 and 21 put and agreed to.
(1) All moneys paid or payable to the National Hospital Trustees under or in pursuance of this Act shall form a single fund to be known and in this Act referred to as the Hospitals Trust Fund and shall be held by the said trustees upon trust to invest, manage and apply the same in accordance with this Act.
(2) So much of the capital of the Hospitals Trust Fund as is for the time being not required for making disbursements in pursuance of this Act shall be invested and kept invested by the National Hospital Trustees in securities authorised by law for the investment of trust funds or authorised by order made by the Minister, with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance, for the investment of the Hospitals Trust Fund.
(3) The National Hospital Trustees may from time to time vary the investment or any part of the investment of the Hospitals Trust Fund.
(4) All interest, dividends, and income and all sums in the nature of bonus received by the National Hospitals Trustees on the securities in which the Hospitals Trust Fund is invested shall, immediately on the receipt thereof by the said trustees, be added to and form part of the capital of the said Fund.
(5) It shall not be lawful for the National Hospital Trustees to solicit contributions to the Hospitals Trust Fund, but the said trustees may, with the consent of the Minister, accept any such contribution in money which is offered to them without such solicitation, and all money so offered and accepted shall for the purposes of this section be deemed to be paid to the said trustees in pursuance of this Act.
(6) The National Hospital Trustees shall pay out of the Hospitals Trust Fund all such grants, expenses, and other moneys as are directed or authorised by this Act to be paid out of that Fund but, where any direction, authority, or sanction is required by this Act for such payment, only upon such direction, authority, or sanction.
The following amendments stood in the name of Sir James Craig:
20. In sub-section (1) lines 45-46, to delete the words "form a single fund to."
21. Before sub-section (2), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
The National Hospital Trustees shall divide the moneys received in respect of a particular sweepstake under Section 12 (1) hereof into two funds in the proportion of two-thirds and one-third, whereof the first shall be known as the Promoting Hospitals' Fund, and the second, the General Fund.
This amendment would make a fundamental alteration in the Bill. The division of the surplus into two parts, two-thirds and one-third, is a purely arbitrary division, and it has no relation to any conceivable working arrangement between the promoting hospitals and the public hospitals that are debarred from promoting sweepstakes.
Amendment No. 20 is the one before the House.
No. 21 is really consequential. The two hand together and I think we shall have to discuss them together. We are endeavouring to approach this hospital question as a whole, from the point of view of the requirements of the local bodies in the provinces, as well as from the point of view of the requirements of the community who will be looking for accommodation and treatment in the voluntary hospitals in the cities. We cannot determine in advance that two-thirds is necessary for this particular sub-division, and that one-third is sufficient for the other. I believe, from the experience we have gained in the administration and distribution of the two-thirds and one-third ratio, that the one-third will probably be sufficient to meet the requirements of the local authorities, but at the same time I think it is very inadvisable to tie the Minister's hands to that proportion. When the schemes that are under consideration, and that are likely to become adopted by the local authorities, have been financed, it is quite possible that the cost will have absorbed a smaller proportion of the total fund than one-third. If less than one-third meets the requirements of the local authorities, whatever balance remains will be available for the voluntary hospitals. Similarly, I suppose if the one-third is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the local authorities the fund will have to be encroached on in order to have the the schemes financed and carried out. Taking the country as a unit and trying to visualise the needs of the community as a whole, whether the community is to be served by the institutions set up and maintained by the local authority or whether it is to be served by the voluntary hospitals, if it is to be viewed as one problem and if the co-ordinated system is to be established I think the fund must remain as one fund, and that the arbitrary division heretofore in operation will have to be discontinued.
At the present moment it is open to the Minister to allocate very large sums of money to various local bodies, and it is open to him to completely cut out all the voluntary hospitals if he so desires.
I would not be at all so strongly in favour as I am at the present moment of, at any rate, some proportion being ear-marked as the minimum for the promoting hospitals were it not that tremendous powers were already taken under Section 24 of this Bill, and that by an amendment which the Minister is bringing forward on Section 24 he will be absolutely in control of the distribution of those sums of money. As the Bill will then stand, he need consult nobody. He may, if he likes, completely ignore the Hospitals Commission. He need not consult with them. He may give the whole of these sums for the future maintenance of a lunatic asylum in any county he likes. That is a very serious condition of affairs, and if the Parliamentary Secretary would consider that I think he would be doing a great deal to strengthen confidence in this Bill. People subscribe money. It is not State money at all; it is the money of private individuals collected together. The Hospitals Sweep is not really some privilege conferred upon the hospitals; it is an ordinary common law privilege which the hospitals had, and which was taken away by certain Lottery Acts. Those Lottery Acts have been repealed, with the result that the money belongs to the hospitals and not to the State. They are simply allowed to collect money from private individuals.
I am sorry to interrupt the Deputy. In order to put myself in order I want to say that I have given private notice of my intention to ask the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to answer a question before the adjournment.
Committee to sit again on Tuesday, 23rd May, 1933.