As I was saying, when that programme is completed two-thirds of all the money from the very beginning up to that time, that is up to 1957, will have been given to the voluntary hospitals.
I have stated that on a good many occasions. Yet, speakers get up and say that the local authority hospitals have got most of the money and the voluntary hospitals have got very little. That is not true. That is all I can say again.
Senator Professor Hayes also spoke about teaching and research. I am afraid there is a little bit of confusion in that. There are two clauses in this Bill. I did not refer to these when I was opening this debate but perhaps it is better to do it now. There is one clause which gives the local authority power to provide post-graduate courses in a local authority hospital. The law was defective there. There were clinical courses given in some of our local authority hospitals and it is doubtful if the local authority had any legal power to permit these to be given. For instance, take the county hospital in Galway. We had to make that right. That is made right in this particular clause. We went further and we are giving authority to the local authority to provide post-graduate courses for their own medical officers. That was considered necessary. The need was felt in the past on many occasions where some new technique or new process was introduced, like B.C.G. vaccination, or something like that and it was necessary to give doctors a very short course of what should be done. That power is being given to the local authorities now.
The other clause deals with the teaching colleges. That is a matter— I will not say of controversy—but that has been under discussion between some of the teaching schools and the Department of Health for many years. Perhaps Senators know what the position is. I am sure some of them know it. Take Galway. It is the best example because it is the simplest example to take. If a gynæcologist— that is the best example to take—is being appointed to Galway hospital then, in fact, University College Galway, has no choice but to adopt that man because there is not room in Galway for two gynæcologists and, therefore no second man of repute or standing would come to teach in the University College because he would feel that he could not make a living in Galway. They had to adopt the man taken by the hospital. The man was appointed to the hospital by the Local Appointments Commissioners. University College Galway felt that it was rather beneath their dignity to accept a man in that way.
I had to take the standpoint that the hospital could not legally take the man appointed by the University College because the hospital had to take a man appointed by the Local Appointments Commission. I went further and said that I was not prepared to recommend that the law should be changed so that the hospital authorities would have to follow the University College because the hospital authorities might feel that they were not getting the man that suited them best if they were to take the man appointed by the University College. A compromise was reached, and the compromise was that where a teaching body claims to have an interest in a local authority hospital the Minister can make an Order compelling the local authority to provide facilities for clinical teaching and then it follows on: If an appointment is being made in which appointment the University College would have an interest, then the Minister can again make an Order providing for special machinery for the appointment. The special machinery is, that the Local Appointments Commission in appointing a selection board would have half that board representatives appointed by the University College and a neutral chairman appointed by the Minister. That is the compromise that has been reached and I hope it works satisfactorily.
The point was made about the British scheme as to whether it was free or not. I think Senator Professor Stanford answered that point very clearly when he said that one-tenth came from the social security fund. That is true, I think. When the Social Security Act was passed £40,000,000 was to be devoted to the health services in order to cover the services that would be given by the medical men for social welfare purposes. If we were, for instance, in our case, to transfer from the social welfare fund money to pay the doctors for their certification for insurance and let it be paid through the Department of Health, then we would be in the same position as they are in England, roughly speaking. I do not say we would be in the same position with regard to the percentage or amount but, roughly speaking, in the same position. I think no Senator would try to argue very strongly that if that were done it would make our scheme a contributory scheme. It would to some extent but, in the North of Ireland there is no contribution whatever. It is entirely voted moneys which pay for the health scheme there.
Senator Baxter said he thought we should have a much better measure than the measure which I have put before him for the money that is being provided. That is the sort of statement that I find it very difficult to deal with. It is the sort of statement that would always come from a Fine Gael speaker. I do not think you will ever hear a clear-thinking speaker from another Party making a statement of that kind. It is a typical Fine Gael point, that we should have a better measure for this money, but they never tell you what the measure is. It is the easiest thing in the world to say that we should have a better measure and then to go on to the next point and leave the other person to think out what that measure should be.
I would like Fine Gael in this House to give me a little more help than they gave me in the other House. In the other House they refused to put down an amendment even to give me an indication of how their minds were running about a scheme. They did talk; they did oppose; they did hold up; but, they never put down an amendment and never suggested how the Bill could be improved. I would be very interested indeed if Fine Gael would give an indication of what their policy may be.
It was said here that Fine Gael had opposed all health schemes. That is true, of course. From 1945 on, they opposed every scheme that came, either opposed or sabotaged, because their own scheme, brought in when the Coalition Government were in office, was not so much opposed as sabotaged. It came to the same thing. Fine Gael got their way and the scheme disappeared. When that scheme disappeared the next Minister for Health, who was Deputy Costello, brought the Irish Medical Association into the Custom House and said: "Prepare a scheme yourselves", or words of that kind.
When I was winding up the debate in the Dáil I was reported in the newspapers as saying that I put them out. Perhaps I should not have used those words as baldly as that, but I did qualify the thing somewhat, although it was not reported in the newspapers. What I said actually was that I told them to get out and I said it is not their job but my job. Of course, I said it very politely. I thanked them for their services, and so forth. I did not want to put it as baldly as that—"Get out". What I actually did was to send them a letter saying that I thanked them for their past services, that I did not require their services in that particular capacity for the future and that I thought it was a job that should be done by the Minister himself with, of course, their advice. We can leave it at that and I can only say that the papers were a little bit hard on me in the report that they gave.
Senator Professor Fearon thought we could find out a person's means from his income-tax returns. There are two objections to that. First, there are not so many income-tax payers amongst the middle income group, in my opinion and, secondly, the Revenue Commissioners would not agree, unless we brought in a Bill in spite of them. They are very jealous of the information they get from their income-tax payers and they regard it as absolutely confidential and would not disclose that information to anybody. I suppose, on the whole, there is something to be said for that.
There were two matters mentioned by Senator Professor Jessop and referred to by other Senators, namely, the prevalance of rickets in Dublin and the prevalence of dental caries. I do not think it is a fair statement to say that rickets are prevalent in Dublin. They have almost disappeared. Last year I was out in a home that was organised by voluntary effort many years ago for the treatment of rickets. They told me the sad story for this home that they could not get any rickets patients and they had to turn to the treatment of other defects. They hardly ever get a rickets patient now. That is largely true. Rickets have almost disappeared in the City of Dublin and in this country. It would be unfair that the impression should get out that we have rickets on a large scale in Dublin.
The same applies to dental caries. There is not so much of that either. As a matter of fact I saw the report of one investigator. He is not an Irishman. He held that, at least in certain parts of the country, we are freer from dental caries, practically, than any part of the world. The person who was doing the research intended to come back again to try to discover why we were very free from it in certain parts of the country. Again I do not think it is giving a fair picture to say that we suffer a lot from that particular disease.
Senator McGuire gave certain reasons for his opposition to the Bill which were, if you like, more specific but, in a way, very general. He quoted from the White Paper saying that, having sought the views of interested organisations, we went ahead with the business of preparing a Bill. He asked: "Why did we not seek the views of the Irish Medical Association?" We did seek their views. There is no "why" about it, we did. When the White Paper was issued, I sent several copies, I think about 50, to the Irish Medical Association and said: "Whenever you are ready, gentlemen, I am prepared to talk to you." They came along eventually and they put three questions to me. They asked: "Are you prepared to drop three things?" I said, "No". They said, "That ends it; we do not talk then". That was the end of it. I will put it even to Fine Gael, do they think I should have given in to them? Should I have said: "Come back, gentlemen. I will take out these three things"? Any self-respecting Minister of any Party would say: "If that is your attitude I can get on without you". That was the end of that. They did not come back because I would not take out three things which they asked me to take out and said they would not discuss things. They maintained the same attitude a week ago when I saw them. They said they were not prepared to co-operate. Do Fine Gael Senators seriously suggest that I should have given in and said: "I will give in in order that you may discuss the Bill"? They would not discuss it. That was the end of it. They still maintain the same attitude.
I am accused of being hard on the Irish Medical Association, of saying hard things about them and about the doctors. I am not against the doctors. There are many doctors in this country who are particular friends of mine. I think the doctors are just as good as the average population in this country. They are just as good as the farmers or the lawyers or the engineers or the teachers or anybody else. I cannot find any fault with the doctors at all on that score. Many of them are friends of mine and I get on very well with many of them. I can tell you that many of them are in favour of this Bill. The people with whom I did meet with trouble are the Irish Medical Association. That is a different matter. For instance, to give you an illustration. I get on very well with certain Fine Gael people and I like them, but I detest the Fine Gael organisation. I think it is the most atrocious thing ever brought into this country and I absolutely detest it. Perhaps Fine Gael may say the same thing about our organisation. But why should I be accused of being against the doctors because I do not agree with the Irish Medical Association? Anyway, is there not something suspicious about the Irish Medical Association? You rather suspect that they are unreasonable considering that they have been up against every Minister of Health who came along. They could not get on with any of them. I do not know what anybody thinks about my two predecessors, but I think they were very reasonable men and I think I am a reasonable man. One of my predecessors was really Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government, but he was actually acting as Minister for Health at the time or was doing the same work. But none of the three of us could ever get co-operation from the Irish Medical Association. Immediately we came into office, one after another we found that we were the enemies of the medical profession. I do not know what I am going to do about it. If any Fine Gael Senator or Deputy will come to me and honestly say: "I think you should give in to the Irish Medical Association", I might think about it, but I know what I might think about the Senator or the Deputy.
Senator McGuire referred to a letter in the Irish Times about my kicking the doctors out of the Custom House. I saw that in the Irish Press, but that does not matter. He is against this Bill for three reasons: one is, failure to work in harmony with the doctors. I have said all I want to say about that. I am prepared even now to work in harmony with the doctors. Let them come along. I said that over and over again. We will meet to talk about the matter any time they like. The second reason was, I turned the blind eye to the moral authorities. I shall leave that aside for the moment. The third was, no real estimate was made of the cost. That is a chestnut of Fine Gael. Some of the speakers said that I could only give an estimate, that I could not give the real cost. Did anybody ever give the real cost in a case like this? Even the best architects can only give an estimate as to the cost of building a house. I could not possibly know how many people may benefit in each particular category. How am I to know whether a person will get appendicitis next year or the year after? It would be impossible to give the actual cost of a scheme like this. Surely if a Minister gives an estimate it is the most that can be expected from him. I have given an estimate over and over again.
Let us now get back to the other reason, that I have turned the blind eye to the moral authorities. Many Senators on the other side have referred to that, Senator Ruane, Senator Baxter and Senator McGuire and the last Senator spoke, I think, more openly than any of them. On my own side, Senator Mrs. Dowdall said she felt that she was not qualified to talk on moral issues. I was going to say to her that if she joined Fine Gael for a few days she would lose her diffidence. They seem to be able to pontificate always on moral issues. They never stop talking about moral issues. They have been lecturing us on morality both in the Dáil and the Seanad. Why? Are they better men than we are? Perhaps they are. But, if they were much better men than we are they would not adopt that attitude; they would probably be a bit more charitable in their approach to us and probably try to bring us back to the fold in a more gentle way. Is it not quite evident that they are talking for a political reason, trying to get the people to believe that we are infidels and antiCatholic and unChristian and that the chosen few are sitting amongst Fine Gael?
The Irish Independent of August 3rd was quoted from by the last Senator. I have it here. Side by side there is a report of an address and a letter. Dr. Falvey, in his letter, stated that the Irish Medical Association's objections to the Health Bill are based on the principles of Catholic social philosophy, which are unshakable and unbreakable. Reverend Dr. Ó Briain, speaking in Galway, said that the Bill as it left the Dáil, “by no means conformed to Catholic morality and that our politicians, by ignoring many fundamental Catholic social principles, had prepared and supported a thoroughly immoral piece of social legislation”. The last Senator who spoke asked did I accept that. Well, I am prepared to give a very definite answer—no, because I cannot accept conflicting opinions from different ecclesiastics. I do not know where I am if I am going to accept whatever is said by every stray theologian who comes along. I want to say this, that I was asked by Senator Frank Hugh O'Donnell did I consult the Hierarchy. I met the Hierarchy several times. I said that in the Dáil. I met them several times, sometimes five, sometimes three, sometimes one. On one occasion I had the Tánaiste, Deputy Lemass, with me, on another occasion the Taoiseach was there and several times I met them alone, and we met the objections they made by introducing amendments in the Dáil and we heard nothing more.
It may be said that the Hierarchy did not give their approval. I do not expect them to give their approval to every Bill that goes through here. I think we would be very foolish to expect that for every Bill we put through. For instance, take the Bill that was put through by the Coalition Government when they came into power first reducing the tax on beer. It was not condemned, of course, by the Hierarchy, but would it be fair to ask the Hierarchy to approve of that Bill? I think it would not be fair and I think it would be a wrong principle and establish a wrong precedent to say that we should ask for their approval. If we get away without their disapproval we are doing fairly well and we have got away without their disapproval—that is the Hierarchy, but we have not escaped from Fine Gael; that is different. Fine Gael are not satisfied.
Now Reverend Father Ó Briain said that his objection was based on the fact that one political Party got a mandate. From whom? From the Hierarchy—one political Party.