Before the Minister begins will he tell us whether he expects to take all the stages of the Health Bill before this House rises, and, if so, will he give us some reason for that particular attitude?
Order of Business.
Yes. I would press the Seanad to deal with this Bill and thus give us an opportunity of getting on with the preparations which it will be necessary to make when the Bill is passed. If the Seanad, in its wisdom, should insert any amendment, which at the moment I cannot see can be done to its advantage—but I am always open to conviction by the Seanad—the Dáil will have to be called together and then we will have to make our regulations. This Bill is an enabling Bill and will be followed by regulations which will take some time to prepare. Some of the matters here, which I will mention in the Second Stage speech, are very urgent. I would, therefore, press on the Seanad to deal with the Bill as expeditiously as possible.
The Minister's attitude is the familiar one, that this is an urgent Bill and that it is a perfect Bill in this case.
As far as I know, the Bill does not require an amendment.
Naturally, and this has always been the policy. However, it is a very strange situation to confront the Seanad with a Bill as big as this— to the principle of which there is no objection—and which ought to get careful examination from the Seanad, which it cannot get at this stage. If the Minister got the Bill at the end of September it could be taken by the Dáil on 8th October.
It would then take two or three months to make the regulations.
It has taken 25 years to bring it to this point.
I have not been able to follow the conversation very closely but I understood the Minister to say that he did not think this Bill could be amended. It was freely amended in the Dáil. Surely, our collective wisdom might possibly suggest further valuable amendments. I do not like the attitude that the Minister does not feel we could contribute anything useful by way of amendment.
The Senator must have misunderstood me. I said I myself cannot suggest any amendment but I recognise that the Seanad may suggest amendments—I have not thought of any—and if that be the case, I shall be delighted.
The Minister has not suggested that we should pass all stages to-day. I think that what the Minister has said is quite reasonable. His attitude is that he cannot see where there is need for any further amendments but that if the Seanad suggests any amendments they can be inserted. I consider that attitude quite reasonable.
I have never heard Senator Quirke taking up any other position except that he considers the Minister's attitude quite reasonable. There was no necessity for him to say it. It was understood.
When there was another Government in office I did not think it and the people proved I was right.
The Minister has always managed to get on very well in this House, indeed sometimes too well and too successfully from the point of view of some of us. I am quite sure his technique will not fall down in his dealings with this Bill. However, I, like Senator Sir John Keane, dislike the inference we are to draw from the statement of the Minister that he does not know how the Bill can be amended. I am afraid that we are going to be faced with the view that the Minister is anxious to get this Bill now, without one amendment and without having to bring back the Dáil, and that, no matter how reasonable we may be, he will be just slightly more reasonable in refusing our amendments and we will not be able to amend it. That appears also to be Senator Quirke's idea. I should like to mention the situation which confronts a Senator who lives in the country, such as myself. I get home from here probably about Saturday. Amendments to a Bill such as this cannot be drafted until time is given to their examination and consideration. There are matters I could not attempt to mend until I would hear what the Minister has to say about them to-day. In those circumstances I do not see how we can take the Committee Stage of this Bill to-morrow.
The suggestion is to take it next week.
As Senator Hayes says, we have waited 25 years and it would not be too long to wait another couple of months in order to make the Bill better.
Is there not a suggestion about the Appropriation Bill?
It is usually taken in one day through all stages and I suggest it be taken next week. I think that was agreed to-day at the meeting of the Committee of Procedure and Privileges.