§ Mr. Mulvey (Fermanagh and Tyrone)
I beg to move, in page 4. line 33, after "Acts," to insert:Provided that where the character and associations of any voluntary hospital are such as to link it with a religious denomination all necessary attention should be paid in the general administration and in the making of appointments to the Board of Management to preserve the character and associations of the hospital.Provided further that all endowments I such hospitals should remain the property of these hospitalsThe object of this Amendment is to seek safeguards in the event of the Northern Ireland Parliament devising a scheme of any kind to take over the control of voluntary hospitals. There is one voluntary hospital in Belfast, and hon. Members opposite are aware of the circumstances in which that hospital is controlled, and if the Northern Ireland Government are given these powers, it would certainly create a very awkward situation for the people who founded and those who now control that hospital. There should be some safeguard in a matter of that kind. I would refer the Home Secretary to Section 60 of the National Health Service (Scotland) Act of this year which states:Where the character and associations of any hospital transferred to the Secretary of State by virtue of this Act are such as to link it with a particular religious denomination, regard shall be had in the general administration of the hospital and in the making of appointments to the Board of Management to the preservation of the character and associations of the hospital.There is a safeguard for hospitals of the type to which I have referred. Endowments, bequests or donations of such hospitals should remain the property of those hospitals. I hope the Home Secretary, will accept these Amendments.
§ Sir P. Hannon
I rise to ask the Home Secretary to give the proposal embodied in this Amendment his very careful consideration. I hope that nothing will happen, following upon this Bill becoming an Act, to intensify the bitterness which already exists in Ireland. Some difficulty may arise in connection with the administration of voluntary hospitals, and I hope the Home Secretary, taking as he does a benevolent view of the future possibility of co-operation between Northern 839 and Southern Ireland, will do all he can to ensure the administration of voluntary hospitals on the lines indicated by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone. Already in the Scottish Health Act there is a provision with regard to the administration of voluntary hospitals of a denominational character on similar lines to this Amendment, and I hope the Home Secretary will accept it, either in the present form or in a modified form. If it is good enough for Scotsmen, it should apply to the people of Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Gage (Belfast, South)
I cannot resist congratulating the hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Mulvey) and the hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Delargy) on this thoroughly Conservative Amendment. Perhaps it is an indication of what is to come. When the Scottish Health Bill was debated, I remember that many similar Amendments were proposed from this side of the Committee, and the principle that endowments should be left with voluntary hospitals was put forward very strongly. I did not then hear the voice of the hon. Member for Platting in support of that principle. I agree with it. Where a hospital has religious links, it is right and proper that they should be preserved in every possible way. I entirely agree with the remarks about the hospital in Belfast which derives great strength from its religious links, and it is indeed one of the best hospitals in Belfast. Any effort to sever those links would be disastrous. Though the principle behind the Amendment is right, the Amendment itself is misconceived. I have no doubt that provisions similar to the Section in the Scottish Health Act, which was quoted by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone, will be found in the Ulster Health Bill when it becomes law. At any rate, we can be certain of one thing, and that is that the principles which the hon. Member enunciated will find ample support from the Conservative and Unionist benches in the Ulster House of Commons.
§ 11.45 a.m
§ Mr. Delargy (Manchester, Platting)
I thank the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Gage) for his complimentary remarks in my regard. They are, no doubt, very sincere, but they are also exceedingly mistaken. The only theoretically weak point about this Amendment is that it 840 may be objected that it goes against Section 5 of the principal Act. It is laid down in that Act that there shall be no discrimination in favour of or against any religious denomination. What we are asking for is not discrimination but a recognition of what already exists. If the principle of the Amendment is accepted, all the good things which the hon. Member for South Belfast hoped would occur in Northern Ireland, might indeed occur.
§ Mr. Ede
The two provisos in this Amendment deal with two rather separate phases of the same matter. Clause 4 is required in order that we may get round the difficulty in the Government of Ireland Act to which the hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Delargy) referred—namely, that in Northern Ireland, under the law, it is unconstitutional to discriminate between one religious denomination and another, or one religious institution and another. Therefore, if Section 61 of the English Act, which contains the first of these provisos, is to be enacted in Northern Ireland, it is necessary to have this Clause. Here again, I think, it is our duty, having opened the way at the request of the Northern Ireland Government, to leave them to frame their Bill in accordance with their desire, which is, I understand, to cover the point raised in the first proviso. It is no good having self-government and then running away from it. That is the difficulty in which I find myself in regard to a good many of these Amendments. Northern Ireland has been given self-government, and Parliament must recognise that fact.
With regard to the second proviso, as the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Gage) pointed out, Parliament refused to insert it in the English National Health Bill and, I understand also in the Scottish Bill. I think it would be most invidious if the Northern Ireland Government were compelled to do something which we in this country did not wish to be compelled to do, and against which this Parliament divided. I could not ask the Committee to accept the second proviso. As far as the first is concerned, I understand the Northern Ireland Government desire to follow Section 61 of the English Act which incorporates the principle enunciated in the first of these provisos. I hope, with that assurance, and in view of the impossibility of accepting the second proviso in the light of very recent history, my 841 hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone will withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Beattie
Do I understand from the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Gage) that this Clause, as passed in both the English and the Scottish Acts, will find favour with the Tory Government of Northern Ireland? If he could answer in that respect for the Government of Northern Ireland, I should like to hear his reply.
§ Mr. Ede
I thought I had made it clear. This Clause had been brought forward so as to empower the Government of Northern Ireland to proceed along lines similar to those of the English Act in those matters on which the principal Act would have precluded them from following us if this Clause were not introduced.
§ Mr. Beattie
I want to understand this. I shall have to sit on the Opposition -benches in the Parliament of the Northern Ireland Government, defending the principles for which I, and others on this side of the Committee, have stood for many years. I want to know whether an Amendment of the kind which has just been withdrawn will find favour in the Tory administration in Northern Ireland. If the Home Secretary tried to appeal to the Tories of Northern Ireland to follow the Socialists in that, I do not think he would succeed. I have tried it for the last 25 years, but have met with no success.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 5, 6 and 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.