I appreciate the Deputy's jocular intervention, but this is not an easy point to expose and I ask the Deputy to postpone his jest until I finish. What I want to secure is that in certain fixed areas, say, in each county there would be a co-ordinating officer for all our social services and that eventually we would have a Minister for social services. So that, if any person, however simple, was destitute or in grave distress, but could not bring himself within the ambit of any scheme known to him, that person would be able to go to some individual in his own county and say to him: "I cannot make out what I am entitled to, but I know that your duty here is to see that the citizen gets his rights under the law when he stands in need of relief of one kind or another. These are the facts of my case. Do not start reading the law to me. Do not start telling me that somebody will look after me. I want to know from you what you are prepared to provide for me." I want that co-ordinating officer to examine the facts of that case and see that the aggrieved individual gets whatever assistance he is entitled to, and if it appears, under the peculiar circumstances existing in this particular case, that the person is not covered by any existing scheme, that it will be his duty immediately to prepare a memorandum and forward it to the responsible Minister to say: "This is a class of case which has come under my notice and I bring it now under yours, so that if similar cases are arising in other counties you may have the requisite material to form a judgment as to whether further social legislation is not desirable to cover this peculiar class of case which has so far been overlooked."
That is one very special reason why this matter should be attended to. There is another immensely important reason, and it is this. If you examine our present social services, you will find that they are being administered by all sorts of different Departments. Each Minister who is responsible for one service must set up a machine in his own Department adequate to operate that service efficiently, or as efficiently as the existing law will permit. That means that you have an immense increase in the overhead cost of getting money, voted by this House, out to the indigent people entitled to it. I think we could effect immense economy in the overhead charges of these social services if we could coordinate them all, and made one Minister and one Department responsible for their administration. I know that certain social services are administered by the Government, and others by the local authorities, but I do not think any such difficulty should be allowed to stand in the way, and that whatever steps might be necessary effectively to co-ordinate them ought to be taken. It would be impossible for anyone casually to adumbrate a complete scheme to achieve that purpose here and now, because it is a matter on which there would have to be careful inquiry and expert evidence heard from those in direct touch, but I feel that very important work urgently awaits us in regard to these matters.
The last aspect of this question that I want to touch upon is this, that if we are to devise social services in this House, we should be extremely careful—if and when a desire from existing charitable institutions manifests itself—of the form of assistance we give, because it would be an unmitigated disaster if existing charitable institutions were brought under any kind of bureaucratic control, or made the subject of any bureaucratic interference, in consideration of any contribution they might get from the State or from local funds, because the whole essence of the successful working of charitable organisations is that the persons working them are acting bona fide and disinterestedly. If not, no amount of bureaucracy will make the charity what it ought to be. We have further to consider if we desire to make State or local funds available to charitable institutions. I am not arguing that that should never be done, as there are exceptional circumstances in which it may be necessary to do it, but we ought to bear this in mind, that if it is known that a particular charitable organisation is receiving funds from the Government, many charitably disposed persons will inevitably say: “If I have 10/- or £1 to give in charity this year what is the use of giving it to such and such a society? Their funds are guaranteed by the Government. All they have to do is to spend as much as the object of their charity requires, and if there is a deficit at the end of the year they can get a contribution from the Minister for Local Government for whatever amount is necessary to make up the deficit.” If that is so, people will turn their charitable donations elsewhere, and will begin to get the impression that if one charity gets assistance of that kind then other charities ought to get the same kind of assistance.