Financial Resolutions, 1985. - Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Bill, 1985: Committee Stage.

Thursday, 21 February 1985

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 356 No. 3

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[486] Section 1 agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, not moved.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  I move amendment No. 5:

5. In page 2, before line 10, to insert the following subsection:—

“(1) Section 4 (1) of the Principal Act is hereby amended by the deletion of the following:

`(1) A person shall not sell contraceptives unless—

(a) the sale is in accordance with regulations for the purposes of this subsection relating to the sale of contraceptives, and'

and the substitution therefor of:

`(1) A person shall not supply contraceptives unless—

(a) the supply is in accordance with regulations for the purposes of this subsection relating to the supply of contraceptives, and'.”.

Deputy Mac Giolla and I put down six amendments, five of which have been ruled out of order, and amendment No. 5 is the only one which still stands. We hoped that in tabling these amendments we would get what we have not got to date, a debate on the need for extended and expanded comprehensive family planning facilities. I recognise the delicacy with which the Minister must tread in maintaining support for the Bill before the House at present. For that reason we do not intend to call a vote on amendment No. 5, but we feel that there should be some discussion on the amendments which we consider necessary to the 1979 Act.

The amendment which still stands is to that section of the original Act which prevents the distribution of contraceptives except by sale. We are anxious that [487] that would be deleted and that distribution which does not require sale be allowed. In that regard we feel that the health boards have responsibility to ensure the provision of comprehensive family planning facilities. If that is to be so, then medical card holders would be entitled to such facilities if the health board were providing them and they should not be obliged to pay. In other words, the health boards would be free to supply contraceptives to families holding medical cards where it is judged that they require them.

Our other amendments, which clearly we will not have an opportunity to discuss at this stage, refer to the definition of a family planning service. Under the 1979 Act that is defined solely as the provision of information, instruction, advice and consultation. The health boards in particular are restricted from providing anything other than advice, instruction, information and consultation. Voluntary family planning clinics can provide a wider service. Again we are anxious that health boards would be obliged under the Act to provide, for instance, for tubal ligation and vasectomy. There is a clear need for that kind of service. On second Stage I indicated the demands that exist for tubal ligation. There is no legal obstacle to the provision of that, but we feel that it would be necessary to broaden the definition of family planning services to ensure that health boards would be obliged to make this service available.

The only amendment we have before us is No 5, which refers to the substitution of distribution for sale, in other words to allow health boards to be permitted to provide for medical card holders services which people who can afford to pay for them can get.

Minister for Health (Mr. B. Desmond): Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I appreciate the spirit in which Deputy De Rossa has opened up this aspect for discussion. By way of explanation to the House at large I make the point that section 4 (3) of the 1979 Act provides that contraceptives may not be supplied [488] other than by way of sale, that is generally. Of course, the outlets are confined in the 1979 Act to chemists' shops. The other provisions of the section as amended govern who may sell and who may purchase. The 1979 Act draws a distinction between the provision of information, instruction, advice and consultation on contraception and contraceptives, and their sale. It draws a clear distinction, and Deputy De Rossa has underlined that point. If family planning services were to be defined as including the supply of contraceptives this would entail provision for their free supply including the free supply by health boards, and that would be a totally new and different position. I make the point about non-medical contraceptives and medical contraceptives. I am sure the House would agree with me that they are generally cheap and when available without a doctor's prescription they will be now in the same category as relatively cheap over-the-counter items in the controlled outlets, and that will be a major improvement. They are now available in that setting. Also, Deputy De Rossa is aware that the contraceptive pill is available under the general medical services scheme. It is generally available.

It would be at variance with their obligations under section 59 of the 1970 Health Act for the health boards to supply non-medical contraceptives free of charge. The section obliges them to supply drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances to medical card holders. In addition there would be very considerable difficulty in the enforcement of the necessary controls in the even of contraceptives being supplied free of charge. That point has been made by a number of Deputies. Many would argue that while the law should permit contraceptives to be available we could hardly support the formal subsidisation by way of public funds of non-medical contraceptives, items which are relatively cheap. Another factor is that when I have had to restrict the number of general medical services items available to medical card holders, it would hardly be appropriate to be adding these items to [489] the list. For instance, such items as Dettol and cottonwool have been removed from the list. Elastic stockings continue to be available by way of the health boards and public health nurses but not by chemists free of charge to medical card holders. The reason for the restriction in so far as chemists are concerned is that there was appalling abuse of the facility. That is the main point I would make to Deputy De Rossa in relation to Amendment No 5. I appreciate that he was anxious to elaborate on the other amendments but I have just heard that they are not regarded as being in order for a variety of reasons, either because they would involve a charge on the Exchequer or because they would involve amending the 1979 Act when we are confined at this stage to the limited purport of this amendment. Consequently, under the rules of the House, I must refrain from commenting on that aspect, and I regret that I am not in a position to accept the amendment. I only saw the amendment for the first time this morning and I have had some difficulty in determining the precise purport of it.

Mr. J. Doyle: Information on Joseph Doyle  Zoom on Joseph Doyle  I am glad to hear the Minister say that non-medical contraceptives will not be made available at health centres free of charge to medical card holders. The reasonable correspondence I have received in this matter indicates that many people would find it offensive that their hard earned taxes would be used in this way.

In regard to the reference to “the servant or acting agent as such of a pharmaceutical chemist,” what categories of people is the Minister talking about?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  We are dealing with amendment No. 5 only. The Deputy may raise this other matter when we are dealing with the section.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister has stated that the Health Act, 1970, precludes health boards from providing contraceptives free of charge. Perhaps he will indicate under which section of the legislation the health boards will be empowered to [490] sell non-medical contraceptives. I understand that they are not in the business of selling anything, that they are not registered for VAT.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Currently they are precluded from selling them, but we are proposing in section 2 of the Bill an enabling provision which would enable delegated employees of health boards acting in that capacity within health institutions to sell non-medical contraceptives. The Deputy is correct in saying that under section 59 of the 1970 Act the authorisation of the health boards is confined to drugs, medicines, medical and surgical appliances. They are confined to the provision of those items to medical card-holders.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  How will the provision be put into operation in health centres? Will there be shops where people will buy the devices or will they be supplied by a medical officer or by some member of the staff of a health board? Will the Minister be leaving the matter to the discretion of the health boards or will the medical officer of health in each region have control in these matters?

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  We are dealing with Deputy De Rossa's amendment, but when we are on the section as such I shall be pleased to deal with Deputy Bell's question.

Mr. Wyse: Information on Pearse Wyse  Zoom on Pearse Wyse  The Minister says he is amending the Health Act to give authority to the health boards to sell contraceptives.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I am amending the 1979 Health (Family Planning) Act.

Mr. Wyse: Information on Pearse Wyse  Zoom on Pearse Wyse  In the light of that amendment will there be an escape clause whereby a nurse may refuse to sell non-medical contraceptives?

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  That is another matter I will be willing to deal with when we are on the section.

[491]Mr. De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  It appears that amendment No. 5 is preventing other Members from raising various points. Deputy Doyle referred to the possibility of some people being upset by the making available of contraceptives free of charge to medical card-holders. I would merely make the point that there are people who are upset, for instance, because unmarried mothers receive moneys from the State to help them support their children. Likewise, other people might be upset because of some other payments that are made, so that is hardly an argument against ensuring that those who require family planning facilities, whether for health reasons or in the interest of spacing their families, should be denied that facility simply because they cannot afford it. That is the basis of the amendment. As I explained earlier none of our amendments is intended to create a crisis either for the Minister or for the House. They are designed to open up the debate on the wider question of family planning since this has not been the case to any extent in the debate up to now. I am prepared to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. J. Doyle: Information on Joseph Doyle  Zoom on Joseph Doyle  The representations I received related to non-medical contraceptives for single people on medical cards.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  That would be more appropriate when we are dealing with the section.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I move amendment No. 5a:

In page 2, line 35 and in page 3, lines 1 to 3, to delete the words:—

“either—

(ia) the sale is a sale of contraceptive sheaths or spermicides to a person over the age of 18 years, or'.”.

First, we should get this debate in perspective. Last night the Second Stage of this Bill was passed, given approval in [492] general principle, but it has been misrepresented in my view since then as a victory for the State over outside pressure groups, presumably a reference to the bishops, and as something to do with the unity of this country. It is very important that today we should stay within the terms of this Bill, which deals with the distribution of contraceptives. It has nothing to do with victory over anybody and it has nothing to do with the unity of the country. We are merely discussing the distribution of contraceptives. I believe we would do justice to the people if we confined ourselves to the terms of reference in the Bill. I deplore the fact that the Taoiseach went on radio this morning——

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  On a point of order——

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  ——and stated that the vote last night was a victory for the State.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  On a point of order——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Deputy Skelly, please. Deputy O'Hanlon, I should be grateful if you would confine yourself to the amendment.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I intend to do that, but it is very important that we should see ourselves——

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  On a point of order, what are we discussing at the moment?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  We are discussing amendment 5a in the name of Dr. O'Hanlon, and I hope he will confine himself to that amendment.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I intend to confine myself to the amendment. I understand Deputy Skelly's confusion because——

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  The confusion is over there.

(Interruptions.)

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We intend to confine [493] ourselves to this Bill, which deals with the distribution of contraceptives.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Please deal with amendment No. 5a.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  My amendment reads:

In page 2, line 35 and in page 3, lines 1 to 3, to delete the words:—

“either —

(ia) the sale is a sale of contraceptive sheaths or spermicides to a person over the age of 18 years, or'.”.

There is concern throughout the country that contraceptives will be freely available to single teenagers as a result of this paragraph. That concern is not confined only to Members on this side of the House, because many Government Members expressed the same concern. I could identify with a lot of what was said yesterday by Government backbenchers who pointed out that parents had expressed very genuine concern about the effects of this paragraph. It is our opinion that confining contraceptives to single 18 year olds cannot, and will not, be possible as a result of this legislation. This morning I had a phone call from a medical colleague in the midlands who told me he was very concerned, listening to the Minister on radio and on television and reading what he had to say, that even the Minister does not believe that it will be possible to confine the sale of non-medical contraceptives to those over 18 years.

It has been stated inside and outside this House that this is a limited measure, but this paragraph which will allow the sale of contraceptives to unmarried teenagers is a major departure from the 1979 Family Planning Act. That Act provided for bona fide family planning in the context of primary health care and family health care and was very much in line with Article 41 of the Constitution, which gives protection to family life. Nobody can take from the fact that this Bill is a major departure from the 1979 Family Planning Act because it is getting away [494] completely from Article 41 of the Constitution. That is the reality.

I would like to ask the Minister and everybody else in this House if this legislation is for the common good. If it is, would somebody point out one iota in this legislation which is for the common good, because I cannot see it? What we are doing is offering contraceptives to single teenagers. The argument may be put forward that as a result of this legislation girls will not become pregnant, and it is true that a certain number will not become pregnant because contraceptives are freely available, but it is equally true that a larger number of girls will become pregnant because contraceptives are freely available. I would like to know what consultations the Minister had with anybody about this section. The Minister quoted liberally the desire of the medical organisations to get away from writing doctors' prescriptions. I appreciate the medical organisations would not be perturbed about not writing doctors' prescriptions — we dealt with that on Second Stage and I do not intend to repeat my arguments — but has the Minister consulted the medical organisations about the effect of making contraceptives freely available to 18 year olds, have the medical organisations ever dealt with that issue at any of their meetings and have they made any decisions on this?

Yesterday Deputy Griffin read letters which had been sent to members of his party from 17 eminent consultants who expressed very serious concern at the implications of this legislation. I agree with Deputy Griffin when he said he had to respect their opinion. I believe if the medical organisations were asked for their view on this issue they would be very much against giving non-medical contraceptives freely to teenagers.

I asked the Minister if he could give one instance which would show that this legislation was for the common good. I ask him to look at what happened in every other country where they have liberalised contraceptive legislation. In those countries experience has shown that the numbers of abortions and illegitimate births rose. In the United Kingdom 20 per cent [495] of births are illegitimate and in Denmark 40 per cent of pregnancies end in abortion. This is an example of liberalised legislation. I would love somebody to explain why in countries where they have liberal contraceptive laws the rate of illegitimacy and abortions have risen but if we pass this legislation it will prevent girls from becoming pregnant.

If the Minister removes paragraph (1a) from section 2, effectively we will be back to bona fide family planning and contraceptives will be available for bona fide family planning. That would meet the wishes of the vast majority of the people. Family planning would be placed fairly and squarely in the context of good family health care. It would promote the health of couples, and that is what the vast majority of the people want. I ask the House to support our amendment to delete this paragraph. No matter what way they vote, the vast, majority of the Members of this House have no doubt that the people want family planning legislation in keeping with the protection of family life and for the good of the people. That is what the 1979 Health (Family Planning) Act provided.

Mr. J. Doyle: Information on Joseph Doyle  Zoom on Joseph Doyle  I agree with Deputy O'Hanlon that the passing of this legislation will not solve the problems he mentioned. On its own this Bill will not do that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  We are dealing with an amendment.

Mr. J. Doyle: Information on Joseph Doyle  Zoom on Joseph Doyle  The time has come when parents, the Church and educationalists should get together to formulate a programme to help young people to be responsible in their personal relationships. Lack of consideration, especially on the part of men, has caused many of the problems we now have in our society. We should take our courage in our hands and address ourselves to these problems. That would result in a far more Christian and healthy society. That is what we need.

[496]Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I should like to refer to the comments made by Deputy O'Hanlon. He referred to the Bill as a major departure in relation to the availability of contraceptives to single people. His amendment is designed to remove the section in the Bill which confines the availability of non-medical contraceptives without prescription to persons over the age of 18 years. Deputy O'Hanlon used his words very carefully. He did not say it explicitly, but he tried to give an impression, which he and his colleagues have sought to give throughout this debate, that the 1979 Act confines the availability of contraceptives to married couples. He went on to suggest that this Bill is a major departure from that. We should examine what Deputy O'Hanlon said to see if it is accurate.

Before I come to the wondrous bona fide qualification, it is worth looking at another section in the original legislation to see does it currently confine the availability of contraceptives to married couples and does it prevent young people or single people from acquiring them.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  On a point of order, in fairness to Deputy Shatter and in case he goes off on the wrong track, I want to say I made it clear throughout this debate that I accept that the 1979 Health (Family Planning) Act refers to couples. I did not use the term married couples. I may have used it inadvertently, but I made it clear inside and outside this House that I accept that it refers to couples for the purposes of bona fide family planning.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I suppose we are making some progress with that statement. In a moment we can investigate exactly what is meant by couples. Could a couple be a boy and a girl of 14 years of age? Let us look at section 5 (1) of the Health (Family Planning) Act which has nothing to do with couples. That section provides that a person shall not import contraceptives into the State unless they are part of his personal luggage accompanying him when he is entering into the State unless their quantity is not such as to indicate that they are not solely for his own use. [497] Under that section a 13, 14 or 15 year old can arrive in Dublin Airport with a sack full of contraceptives, go to a customs officer and declare they are for his own use. The customs officer cannot refute that, and he goes into the State with his luggage full of contraceptives. There is no age limit in the 1979 Act for unmarried teenagers, never mind couples. It is hypocritical and inaccurate to suggest that there is. It is inaccurate to suggest that this legislation is a major departure from that.

Somebody may say to me that not all our young people can afford to get on a plane and fly abroad to acquire contraceptives, and not all of them will come through Dublin Airport with their luggage full of contraceptives. What about our young people who live in Dundalk or in other Border towns? All they have to do is get in their car, or on their bike, or on a bus and go to Newry and return with as many contraceptives in their pockets as they wish. If they are challenged all they have to say is that they are going to use them. Is anybody suggesting that our young people in Dundalk or in the Cavan-Monaghan constituency are any more corrupt or sexually rampant than our young people anywhere else? There is an implicit inherent hypocrisy about this debate.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  On that side of the House.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  It is time we cut through some of the rhetoric and nonsense and cliches and looked at the reality.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: Information on Eugene Fitzgerald  Zoom on Eugene Fitzgerald  That arrogance is typical of the Deputy.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Deputies opposite get upset when the reality of the current law is put to them. The reality is that there is nothing to stop any young person from getting a bus across the Border and bringing in as many contraceptives and condoms as he or she wishes.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  What is in the new legislation that will stop them?

[498]Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The suggestion that this Bill is a new departure is a nonsense. I am not saying I want to see 13 or 14 year olds engaged in sexual relations and having to use contraceptives. Of course none of us wants to create that sort of moral climate. It is a reality and it is happening in some part of the country at the moment.

I agree entirely with my colleague Deputy Doyle that tackling that problem is not concerned with a spurious provision in an irrelevant Act that tries to pretend we are confining the availability of contraceptives to persons over 18 years of age. Tackling that problem is concerned with educating our young people for relationships, with parental responsibility and with the type of society we create and the moral values we give to them. The availability or not of contraceptives will not affect that.

This amendment is hypocritical. In a sense it is seeking to pretend to the public that an Act currently embodied in our law, and which will remain as part of our law, and which was conceived and legislated for by the current leader of the Opposition when he was Minister for Health, confines the availability of non-medical contraceptives to persons over the age of 18 years or to married couples. If you want to get contraceptives in Newry you do not need a prescription or an authorisation. You simply go there, purchase them and come back again.

If Deputy O'Hanlon is saying his amendment confines the availability of contraceptives to couples who get a prescription for bona fide family planning reasons, I am saying the existing legislation does not do that and never did that. A pretence was made in this House by the Government of the day in 1979 that it did that. I find it astonishing that the members of the Opposition should proceed with that pretence.

That takes us to exactly what the Opposition are about with the proposed amendment. I dealt with the possibilities of importing contraceptives whenever one liked, without prescription, without having to qualify under this odd bona fide family planning terminology. What [499] Deputy O'Hanlon's amendment seeks to do is to remove the Minister's provision confining the availability of non-medical contraceptives without prescription to persons over 18 years of age, and simply return to the formula that with regard to even these non-medical contraceptives, if made available, under the relevant section of the 1979 Act, section 4 (b) (ii), a person supplying these contraceptives or selling them must be assured that they are sought “for the purpose, bona fide, of family planning or for adequate medical reasons and in appropriate circumstances and the prescription or authorisation bears an indication that it is given for the purposes of this Act”.

What does all that mean? Does anybody know? Does Deputy O'Hanlon know? Does Deputy Haughey know, who enacted the matter? Of course, nobody knows. What do “bona fide, of family planning”, or “or for adequate medical reasons and in appropriate circumstances” mean? What are appropriate circumstances? Is the chemist to be satisfied that these will be used by a couple in the bed, or in the garden? Do they have to use them within the State or is it permissible to go on a package holiday to Gran Canaria? Are those appropriate circumstances? What does “bona fide, of family planning” mean? It does not say bona fide family planning. The nuance created or suggested was that this means married couples.

Deputy O'Hanlon referred to the constitutional protection of the family. He said that Article 41 of the Constitution gives protection to family life. In what way is the protection of family life given by Article 41 of the Constitution affected one way or the other by retaining the “bona fide family planning or adequate medical reasons and in appropriate circumstances” formula?

We made an advance this morning. Deputy O'Hanlon has admitted that his party recognise that contraceptives, first, should be made available to couples — presumably couples include married couples. None of us here would disagree with that. Who else qualify in the category of [500] couples? Are a boy and girl of 19 living together a couple who are entitled, within the context of this formula, to acquire contraceptives? Could Deputy O'Hanlon explain that to us? Are a boy and girl of 17 living together a couple — a boy and girl of 17 having a sexual liaison which all of us in this House would condemn on moral grounds, which should not happen, but which is happening on occasions in this country and it is a fact of our life — are they a couple who can for adequate medical reasons and in appropriate circumstances acquire contraceptives? Can a couple of 40 years of age, unmarried, living together, acquire contraceptives? In what way is allowing them to acquire contraceptives under this provision in any way relevant to the protection of family life under the Constitution?

The thing becomes even more esoteric. Sometimes we are confused as to who are couples in this country. What is the position, for example, of a couple whose marriage has broken down and one of whom has obtained a Church annulment, who has been remarried invalidly in Church and the person who obtains the Church annulment and remarries comes to a doctor to acquire contraceptives? Which couple are the contraceptives prescribed for? Are they prescribed for the civil marriage, the first marriage which the State still recognises, or the second marriage which the Church recognises? Take a marriage which has broken down and the husband and wife co-operate with each other — Deputy O'Hanlon is familiar with this in his work on the marital committee — and go to Haiti or the Dominican Republic and get an invalid foreign decree of divorce and one remarries. The remarried spouse is living in Ireland with husband or wife number two. Who are the couple under this formula for bona fide family planning reasons?

The problem is that Deputy O'Hanlon and members of his party know that the current provisions in the 1979 Act were phrased in such a way as to make them completely impossible to interpret, in such a way as to apply to anybody and [501] everybody who may wish to acquire contraceptives.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Deputy Shatter, only amendment 5a is relevant for discussion.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  They apply to 17 and 16 year olds——

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  It is a pity that we had not the benefit of Deputy Shatter's expertise then.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  I should like the Deputy to stay with that section.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  They apply to 13, 14, 15, 16 year olds who require contraceptives——

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  Bingo.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Certainly, this Act was not phrased in such a way as to confine contraceptives to married couples. This is the first occasion, this morning, in this House on which I have heard any member of Fianna Fáil finally admit that, in the context of this legislation, the 1979 Act never sought to and never did confine availability of contraceptives to married couples. Deputy O'Hanlon tells us that it confines them to couples, but how do you qualify as being a couple, if you are not a married couple, with all the legal problems and securities which can arise? Do you qualify as a couple after you have lived together for a week, a month, six months, a year? Is there a definition of couple? The Act does not say that. Nothing in the Act says that contraceptives are confined to couples. The point I am making is effectively, that Deputy O'Hanlon——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Deputy Shatter, I shall remind you again that the amendment in the name of Deputy O'Hanlon confines itself to the sale of contraceptives to persons over the age of [502] 18 years, and that is the amendment with which we are dealing.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  That is right.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Could you confine yourself to that amendment?

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I am merely pointing out that the existing legislation does not have the effect which Deputy O'Hanlon suggests it has. I am replying direct to points which he made in his opening comments, of which I was very careful to take a note.

That leaves us in a position where this House could accept Deputy O'Hanlon's amendment and leave the legislation as it was under the 1979 Act. It could leave this rather interesting formula of that Act there, so that we could all pretend as to what it really says when we know that it does not say what Deputy O'Hanlon would like it to mean. There is nothing in that Act which uses the words “contraceptives should be made available to couples”. It would be very simple if it said that, but it does not.

Deputy O'Hanlon made other comments and, in particular, referred to the making available of contraceptives to single teenagers. I presume that his main objection to the legislation is that although it is all right if they are made available to single people above the age of 20 years his main objection is to their being made available to people under 20 who are teenagers. I have already dealt with the point that the existing legislation does that, anyway. This new legislation does not do anything new.

He went on to say that the fact that some single teenagers become pregnant is not a matter which should become of particular relevance in this debate.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  No, I did not say that.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  That is misleading.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Deputy O'Hanlon said that it is true that a number of girls are becoming pregnant who are teenagers. I am paraphrasing the words which he used.

[503]Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Paraphrase them properly, now.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  The Deputy is not down in Green Street.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I think that it would be agreed that a number of teenager girls do become pregnant. What are the numbers? Has anyone looked at this? Instead of talking about statistics relating to Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands or Timbuktu, what is the Irish situation? The Irish situation for young teenage girls is well referred to in the Medico-Social Research Board Annual Report of 1983, page 60. They refer to:

A study of selected characteristics of women who had an illegitimate birth in Ireland in 1983.

This refers to children born to girls and women who are unmarried. The following is the quotation:

The number of illegitimate births in Ireland increased from 1,843 in 1971 to 3,911 in 1981, an increase of 112 per cent in comparison with a 7 per cent increase in total births for the same period. In 1981 illegitimate births comprised 5.4 per cent of all births contrast to 2.7 per cent ten years before. Thirty-three per cent of illegitimate births were to women under the age of 20 in 1971 whereas the percentage in 1981 had risen to 38 per cent. Seventy-nine per cent of illegitimate births in 1981 were to women aged under 25 years.

That happened at a time when the Bill before us was not being considered. It is when I consider those statistics that I agree with Deputy Fennell, who said that the legislation is about women.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Will it reduce the number?

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Too many women are left in the position where men have not taken responsibility for their actions. They are left in the position where illegitimate children are born.

[504]Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Will the Bill reduce the number?

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I am not saying that the Bill necessarily will reduce the number.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I am saying it will not.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Deputies should address themselves to the amendment before the House.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Deputy O'Hanlon in moving the amendment addressed himself specifically to this issue. I do not know if the amendment will reduce that level. I suspect that what will deal with that problem ultimately is education. To suggest that we do not have a problem in this area, to suggest that young people are not engaging in sexual relations and to suggest, like Deputy O'Hanlon in his bland statement did, that when the Bill is passed an increasing number of young girls will become pregnant——

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It happened in every other country in the world.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  That is what the Bill is all about.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——as if the making available of contraceptives will result in more young girls becoming pregnant is arrant nonsense, and the Deputy is aware of that. The Deputy should stop ignoring the realities of Irish life and stop pretending that he has some form of extrasensory perception which will predict that because contraceptives are made available by this minor amendment to the legislation, young people who want to obtain them without prescription will not have to go to the North, fly to England or get them in family planning clinics, more illegitimate births will occur. That is nonsense. The Deputy is probably right in saying that unless we tackle this area in years to come there will be more births of children outside marrige. That has to do with the fact that until recent months the State has failed to face up to the real social problems in this area and tackle [505] them at the educational level. The amendment tabled by Deputy O'Hanlon is just another example of the cant and hypocrisy of the Fianna Fáil Party in being unwilling to come clean on what the reality of existing legislation is and to deal with that reality. I find it astonishing that they should seek to maintain the pretence embodied in the 1979 Act.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I hope to speak with greater brevity than the last speaker. On Second Stage I majored in this area. I will not dwell on what Deputy Shatter said except to say that he will take it as a fair assessment of his presentation that he argued that we should make it easier for young people in what they are now doing under difficulties. That was the tenor of what he said. We are concerned as to whether this is a good thing or not.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Richard Dowling  Zoom on Richard Dowling  Deputy Shatter was highlighting the reality of the position.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The reality he highlighted was the case of a 13 year old coming in with a load of contraceptives through Dublin airport and convincing the Customs officer that he wanted them for personal use. If that is a valid point I give it to the Deputy, but I will stick to my own view.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Richard Dowling  Zoom on Richard Dowling  Deputy Shatter did not say that.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  He did.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  All Members — I assume I can count Deputy Dowling among them — have a vision of what we think family life is about here. We visualise the parents looking after the interests and needs of their offspring until they reach a certain age. Parents do not always succeed, because of influences on the children from without. We are introducing legislation which affects that fundamental position which is enshrined in our Constitution. We all concede that parents are the primary educators. Our educational system only allows for qualified teachers being in loco parentis for a part [506] of the day in respect of academic and other subject. We are dealing with matters, purely philosophically, affecting the upbringing of those children.

If the Minister accepts that I should like to ask him if he has consulted with parents. Is he convinced that he is acting on their behalf in allowing for a situation which Deputy Shatter has referred to, one which has got out of control but which he wants to legalise and make easy? Is he convinced he is acting on their behalf in making available from now on over the shop counter contraceptives? Deputy Shatter told us that like Deputy Fennell he is concerned that too many women are left in the position when men will not face up to their responsibilities. What about the girl of 16 left with the responsibility of a guy of 18 using these contraceptives on her and a whole queue of them using them on her?

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  They are very strange fantasies.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  There is nothing fanciful about that. It is not as fanciful as the fragile child of 13 importing a load of contraceptives through Dublin airport. I am putting the facts. Deputy Shatter is a legal man and I concede he is qualified in matters referring to legal trivalities for which people can get well paid in another arena, but in the matter of young people I would not concede that to him. I have spent more time with young people than he as a teacher for 20 years. As a teacher I had dealings with boys and girls up to the age of 18 and I know what happens. Under the legislation we are putting pressure on young girls. It will be noted that parents who have sons only are not as concerned in regard to this as those who have daughters, because they realise that the women for whom Deputy Shatter has expressed concern are the sufferers in this. Nobody can deny that under the legislation these will be easily available. Deputy Shatter knows that in the nature of things a boy of 18 or 19 relates to a girl of 16 or 17. I ask Deputies Griffin, Dowling, Doyle, Bell and Conlon if they accept that from what they know of the [507] facts of life. They must accept it and that is what they are agreeing to. They may agree to this because of the political pressures on them, and I can understand that in the House there are certain political pressures.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Deputy should address his remarks to the existing legislation. What did the existing legislation do?

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I do not want to alienate support over there for this amendment by saying I know I would not have the support of Deputy Shatter. He and I move in different directions, and that is what this House is about. But I know there are many others over there with whom I can relate. I know there are many over there who share the ideal I have even though there is no guarantee of its being attainable. Because something has crept in, without welcome, into our way of life, because it is fundamentally wrong, we reject it. Deputy Shatter does not; that is his outlook, his ideology, his upbringing, it is not mine. Even though I find it as difficult as anybody else I continue to have the ideal of what is the good thing. I repeat that there is nothing in this that leads to the common good. There is nothing in it that answers the wishes of the good parents of Ireland. In Heaven's name let us forget whatever political pressures may have been put on us in respect of this Bill. Let us salvage the one really important treasure from it by having removed from it the dangers that exists to the whole lifestyle of the people of Ireland that will inevitably ensue if this amendment is not accepted.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  This is about the tenth time I have risen ——

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Sorry, I want to deal with some of those points in reply to Deputies.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  In Committee it is customary to call the Minister if he offers.

[508]Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  This is about the tenth time I have offered.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I will give way to the Deputy.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  I thank the Minister. I find myself in almost total agreement with Deputy Shatter. I should say to Deputy O'Hanlon that 30 years ago, aged 18, I went to London to work. I went into a barber's shop to have my hair cut and the barber offered me a handful of contraceptives. I bought them. The reason I bought them was that I thought they were shampoos. Thirty years later my son, aged 15, was with me in Blackpool. I said to him: Do you see all those things on the shelf? Do you know what they are? He replied: “You are codding me, dad. I have a pocketful here for all my friends”. That effectively demonstrates the difference between what happened 30 years ago and what is happening now. Young people are not the kinds of fools we were when we took the Holyhead/Euston trip seeking employment in London, not knowing very much about the facts of life.

This amendment, rather than solving problems, would create many more. I am subject to correction by the Opposition spokesman but, as I read the amendment, it would mean that rather than producing one's birth certificate in a chemist shop or health centre one would have to produce one's marriage certificate. It would be rather difficult to go into a chemist shop or health centre and prove whether or not one was married unless one produced a certificate. Experience to date in the sale of alcohol is typical of this. We must accept that it will not be possible in the majority of cases to control the sale of contraceptives to people of 18 years of age and over. It will be like the sale of alcohol — if one is big enough, one is old enough, and no matter what age limit might be set it would not make much difference. We are not being very practical. To impose more restrictions on married couples as against single people would be rather ridiculous.

I want to give an example of what I [509] mean and I am sure Deputy O'Hanlon, being a medical doctor, will appreciate this. A relative of mine, around the age of 18, was in the process of getting married recently. A number of weeks before the marriage she went to a doctor and told him she did not want to become pregnant, that she wanted to go on the pill. The doctor gave her a prescription for the pill. I understood that prescriptions for that type of contraceptive would be issued on the basis of its being a corrective measure for an unmarried person. But there a prospective married person walked into a doctor with no apparent medical defect, was issued with a prescription for the pill and left on honeymoon several weeks later. That girl was not examined by the doctor to establish what would be the side effects of her taking that pill. I know that a number of my relatives who have been on the pill have suffered a number of very serious side effects. I am sure Deputy O'Hanlon would agree with me that, from a medical point of view people who do not necessarily have to get the pill for contraceptive purposes should use the condom. To contend that single girls are not given the pill for the purpose of contraception is not correct, because I know a number of cases to the contrary. I do not know what happens in Carrick-macross but I do know what happens in Drogheda and Dundalk. I do not know whether that would be in conformity with best medical ethics.

I know of other similar cases and to sweep them under the carpet shows us as being naive. There is no doubt in my mind that yesterday, had we been holding a secret ballot, the vote in favour would have been approximately 85 per cent. This shows up the hypocrisy, that in this Chamber one hears Deputies say one thing while in the bar they say something different. I think there is a very small percentage only of the total membership of the House — and I say this respectfully — who will not admit privately that it is a reasonable Bill. This flabbergasts me. I heard a Member of the Opposition in the bar expressing agreement with the Bill yet he came into the Chamber half an hour later and spoke against it. I cannot [510] understand that type of Irish hypocrisy at all.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  It is totally unfair to make allegations like that. The name should be given and the allegation withdrawn.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  But that is a fact.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Deputy Bill should name the Deputy.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  I do not have to.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  I did not interrupt any Deputy.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  This is a Committee Stage debate and every Deputy will have an opportunity of speaking more than once. I did not interrupt anybody when they were speaking.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Deputy Bell should tell us who the Deputy is.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  I also live in a Border consituency. Therefore, like Deputy O'Hanlon, I can speak with first hand knowledge about the situation in relation to this subject. There is no doubt in my mind that young people of any age can travel to Newry, to travel to Newry, purchase contraceptives of one form or another and that there are no restrictions whatsoever imposed. I would not expect somebody from Cork to take a bus to Newry to buy a package of condoms, but it does happen in Border constituencies. I know that this happens on a daily and weekly basis, and Deputy O'Hanlon must be aware of this also. I am familiar with a number of areas in his constituency. Anyhow, that is the situation in County Louth. I do not think this amendment will alter that situation one iota. Indeed, this amendment in its present form, rather than improve the situation, would worsen it.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  I wish to ask the Minister [511] a question. Listening to him last night, I got the impression that he would not agree to any amendments. Has the Minister a closed mind in regard to amendments or is he prepared to listen to both sides of the House? Serious suggestions will be made by concerned people and I hope that the Minister has not his mind made up that he will not agree to any amendments. If something reasonable or helpful comes from any side of the House, will he accept them and make amendments if he feels that the rift which exists can be improved? In some ways he has caused this rift, although maybe we have all contributed to it, but it might be helpful to decide to be helpful rather than to have closed minds.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Listening to some of the contributions from the Opposition, one would imagine that single persons do not have sex, never give birth to children or never suffer from sexually transmitted diseases in the Republic of Ireland. Deputy Tunney asked about the 18 year old who uses a contraceptive in the company of a 16 year old. The first thing to be said is that is not illegal. Is it not more likely in the event of that happening that, if no contraceptive is used, there is a greater danger of pregnancy? The condom has a 9.6 per cent failure rate according to the World Health Organisation but, if no contraceptive is used, one can see how the risk of pregnancy increases.

In this country, if I may use the pejorative classification, the normal illegitimate birth is the result of a boy and a girl having regular intercourse. Most of them do not use contraceptives, only 16 per cent, and, ironically, lest we blame the publicans, generally speaking alcohol is not involved. Furthermore, conception tends to happen in one or other of the parents' home. However, the closed obscurantism which characterised some contributions in this debate does not accept that in health care or public health policy, we must cater for that kind of situation and mitigate its worst effects.

[512] As I said last night. I am not an advocate of contraception. I do not, as a matter of Departmental or political policy, wish to pressurise anyone into using contraceptives, whether young, old, married, single or middle aged. I am simply obliged, under the legal statutory entitlement, to bring something outside the criminal law. It has nothing to do with morality, and legislators should be able to see the difference. After three days of debate we still cannot distinguish between the criminal law, the moral law, norms of behaviour and sociological reality. I am appalled that a medical doctor should use pejorative terms in saying that I advocate teenage sex.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I did not say that.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  It was said last night on television that the outcome of this Bill would be to make contraceptives available by the Minister to teenagers.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is correct. The Minister told us that the Government decided to do that.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  That is a deliberate, mischievous, pejorative intrusion into the debate.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is on record.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  We are extending a legal right which already is given to unmarried persons. Deputy Tunney and all the Deputies over there voted for it when they gave the legal right to every unmarried person to go across the Border or to send away on the back of an envelope for contraceptives. That is covered in the 1979 Act and is not illegal. Deputy Haughey, when he was Minister for Health, conveyed to this House that an unmarried person can send off for and purchase contraceptives from outside the State, but of course they were legally prohibited from purchasing them within the State. De Valera was right——

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  What section allows a person to send away for contraceptives?

[513]Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The section is in the 1979 Act, and the Deputy should read it.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The section which forbade it was repealed.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  That is precisely the case.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  It was repealed as a consequence of the Supreme Court ruling which the party opposite were too cowardly to anticipate.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I am genuinely appalled that Deputies do not yet comprehend what was in the 1979 Act. It is bad enough that they do not comprehend what they voted for in 1979——

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  The Minister referred to sending away for contraceptives on the back of an envelope. Would he quote the section which provided for this?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I am asking Deputy Leyden to resume his seat.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  The Minister has misled the House and is not able to quote the section.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Deputy will have an opportunity to speak later and will be able to refute what has been said then if he so wishes.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I will now deal with the point raised by Deputy Tunney. The great excitement about this Bill ignored one very fundamental issue, and the amendment tabled by Deputy O'Hanlon highlights it in a grave way. Our courts, maternity hospitals and clinics are very aware of the fact that young people, be they married or unmarried, are in urgent need of information, guidance and strong support in relation to what they will face from the age of 14 upwards when they reach the beginning of teenage maturity [514] until they reach adult maturity at around 18 years of age. They need information regarding personal relationships. In the unitary single sex educational system in which I was reared, with profound respect to Deputy Tunney who is a teacher, how I emerged from that as a balanced person——

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  That is questionable.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  We should not indulge in abuse. I am making an observation. Young people need a great deal of information and support in relation to social relationships and in terms of the psychiatric illnesses which are hitting them today. They need support in terms of the psychological pressures they are put under. They need a sense of personal responsibility on issues relating to violence — violence against the person, respect for the elderly and respect for women in our society where there is rampant disrespect at present.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  They need a sense of personal responsibility in relation to respect for women and the capacity of a male to create a pregnancy casually and experimentally and disappear into the night leaving her alone, be she 15, 16 or 17 years of age. That is the kind of issue this House should be discussing and trying to ameliorate. The Department should be spending millions of pounds on that and not on hassle with Mickey Mouse adjustments to health board budgets, whether they are £1 million up or down. That is the kind of issue which we run away from because we are hung up on moralistic, legalistic and statutory control of people's lives. We cannot do that but like the Ayotallahs of politics we purport to do that.

When it comes to contraception it is like a person who is jarring and has a whiskey and soda. Then he has a brandy and a soda, then a gin and soda and then blames alcoholism on soda. It is the same with contraception. Every known disease [515] inflicted on humanity is attributed to contraceptives by those who object to them.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  That is ridiculous.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  It is ironic that, although there is general availability of contraceptives in Northern Ireland, we have a higher rate of abortion. What are we trying to prove? Take, for example, to use that entirely inappropriate term, the illegitimacy rate in Northern Ireland: it is 6.45 per cent per 1,000 women aged 16 to 44 years and in the Republic it is 7.6 per cent. We cannot blame contraception for that. The illegitimacy rate in Ireland is higher than that in West Germany, Italy and other countries where there is widespread contraception. What are we taking about? Look at the abortion rate. The Irish abortion rate is about 15 per cent to 20 per cent lower than that of Germany and the Netherlands. Is that because Germany has general availability of contraception and we pretend that we do not have and want to legalise it out of existence?

With profound respect to Deputy O'Hanlon, I submit that to lay at the door of contraception and one's legal entitlement to buy a packet of condoms, venereal disease, abortion, promiscuity——

Mrs. Barnes: Information on Monica Barnes  Zoom on Monica Barnes  Divorce.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  ——illegitimacy is a perversion of any statistical data available in my Department or from the World Health Organisation. I have spent two and a half years looking at all statistical data.

Deputies on the other side of the House have swallowed some awful propaganda in relation to contraception because people are morally opposed to contraception. I accept that the Catholic Church — not all members of it or bishops but certain strong elements within it — are opposed to contraception. They regard its use as intrinsically immoral. Fair enough. That is a religious belief and must be entirely respected. Catholics are [516] ordained by their Church to obey that moral belief. That is their privilege and human right, but to suggest that because that moral belief is in existence automatically all other human ills must be encompassed within that belief is a travesty of sexuality and shows an obsessive preoccupation with issues relating to sexuality and an attempt to tie them into a moral framework on a statistical basis which does not exist. Every time a Deputy says we are allowing a single person reaching adulthood to avail of contraception, which they have a legal right to do if they so wish, there is hysteria which makes a travesty of parliamentary discussion. This was attempted again this morning. Deputies should get off that jag. There are nearly 500 married couples who are under the age of 18 and I have to say to them they must still go to their general practitioner. About 90 young men under the age of 18 and 380 women under 18 are married. They are caught by the rigours of this legislation, of the so-called permissiveness I am alleged to be introducing.

There are 31,000 women in the 18 age group and there are 32,455 young men in that age group also. If I were one of them I would be irate at the presumptions and the assumptions of promiscuity and of a rampant preoccupation on their part with sex and of the middle-aged politicians in this House saying to them, “No way”. Could we, in God's name, grow up as legislators and parents? All of us have to shed in a responsible way some of our appalling sexual misconceptions. There are people in psychiatric hospitals who are there because of our obsessive misconceptions in relation to sexual practice. As Minister for Health I am not going to put any more in there by imposing legal prohibitions that are repressive and do not exist in any other country in the world except, as Deputy O'Malley graphically pointed out, in Iran and Pakistan.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  And Libya.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I believe so. I am in [517] acute embarrassment because I am going to Iran in about four weeks time to return the visit here of their Minister for Health. I will have to explain to him about the exigencies of Irish law and that what I said here was not meant offensively to him. As a civilised man I am quite sure he will appreciate my predicament.

Deputy O'Hanlon asked if I had consulted the medical profession regarding the age limit of 18 years. It is time I put on record formally the statement from the Irish College of General Practitioners by a very responsible GP, Dr. Michael Boland of Skibbereen, as chairman of the Irish College of General Practitioners. In The Irish Times dated 14 February they called for a change in existing family planning legislation. The statement said that the existing system of making non-medical contraceptives available on prescription was “neither practical or necessary”. This statement was issued by the chairman of the ICGP after consultation with members of the organisation's council, and it stated:

The Irish College of General Practitioners welcomes any change in present legislation which requires general practitioners to control, by doctors' prescription, the availability of forms of contraception which are not intrinsically medical.

The availability of substances or appliances should only be limited by medical prescription where an unacceptable health risk to the general public would otherwise result. If, for moral reasons, it is desirable to restrict the availability of non-medical contraceptives then some means, other than medical prescription, should be found for doing so.

Doctors, in common with all other sectors of Irish society, are divided on moral issues. They should not be asked, therefore, to act as guardians of public morality.

However, the Irish College of General Practitioners reiterates its view that individual contraception and family planning advice is best given as part of an intergrated personal care.

[518] I agree with that statement. There seems to be a presumption in the House that overnight every young woman in the country will be running into a chemist shop or health board clinic and running out with contraceptives. That is a travesty of contraceptive and family planning practice.

Mrs. Barnes: Information on Monica Barnes  Zoom on Monica Barnes  It is an insult.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  A woman will not normally avail of contraceptive advice and guidance without generally going to her GP. Under the 1979 Act — and this is still retained — medical contraceptives come under the dispensation of drugs legislation except for spermicides. Of course women will go to their doctors and seek advice and guidance. As Deputy O'Hanlon knows, some women of 16 and 17 years will be treated in terms of cycle regulations. The law does not prevent that, nor would we dare to purport to prevent it. In this section we are talking about condoms which are non-medical. I do not know why the House has got itself into such a hysterical tizzy about that matter.

With regard to consultation which was referred to by Deputy O'Hanlon I will quote Dr. Aidan Meade who is chairman of the Ethics Committee of the Irish Medical Organisation. He said:

I think the attitude of the organisation will be one of relief, as doctors do not particularly want to be involved in having to prescribe non-medical contraceptives.

With regard to the point raised by Deputy Power, the penalties under the 1979 Act are quite rigorous for anyone selling contraceptives to people under 18 years. It is quite different from a publican who knowingly serves drink to a young person. The actual selling is illegal and the onus devolves on the people in the limited number of outlets. There is no excuse, they cannot say they did not know. Anyone can be brought before the law for the very fact of selling contraceptives to people under 18 years and it will be up to the person concerned to make [519] quite sure that the people who ask for contraceptives are over the age of 18 years. The penalties for illegal sales are clear cut, and they can be invoked by any Deputy or citizen in terms of complaint. The penalties are draconian and they should allay the fears of any Deputy or parent. Section 13 of the 1979 Act provides that on the first offence on summary convinction there shall be a fine of up to £500 or imprisonment up to six months or more. This was introduced by Deputy Haughey. It is so draconian that when I was examining the legislation I said there was no need to increase the penalties. The penalties are very stiff. For a second or subsequent offence on indictment the penalty is a fine of £5,000 and for a continuing offence £250 a day or imprisonment up to 12 months or both fine and imprisonment.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I am sure they would prefer a quick flogging to that.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Other countries knock their hands off. We have very tough penalties, and rejection of this section by the House would negate all aspects of this Bill. Considering that this House decided as a matter of public policy only a couple of weeks ago that 18 should be the age at which independent decision making was devolved in respect of all areas of life. I find it incredible that the Opposition should regard this minor aspect as being wholly inconsistent with public policy generally. Some Deputies are talking about 21 years of age. Where do we stop if we start on that road? If the intention of change was to reduce the risk of purchase by adolescents then there is no evidence that a 21 years old limit or any reasonable age limit would necessarily be any more enforceable than 18 years of age or than the existing bona fide family planning requirement.

For these reasons I cannot accept the amendment proposed by Deputy O'Hanlon. I conclude by saying that what we are trying to do in this Bill is the exact opposite of what we are being accused of doing. Deputy Hussey as Minister for [520] Education, to her eternal credit has faced courageously up to the question of sex education in terms of the educational system, and I have given formal authority to the Health Education Bureau to do some work in this area and I have increased their budget from £1.25 million to £1.75 million in 1985, an increase of £0.5 million, 40 per cent. We are in a situation of shame and we see in our daily newspapers that that situation involves 18 years old young women and 18 year old young men. Equally I have tried to give some protection to married women and 18 year old women who are raped. I am the first Minister for Health to provide moneys for and to direct my senior officers in the Department to become involved in, for example, the Rotunda Hospital to open up in this country for the first time a sexual assault treatment unit with a professional staff. I am providing £30,000 for that exercise in 1985. I am the first Minister for Health in this country to authorise research into, and I have provided £20,000 for this, the incidence of incest which affects 16 year olds, 12 year olds, 10 year olds and many young people, but we have kept that too under the carpet. In this country those things do not happen. If they are going to happen they are not permitted to happen and if they are not permitted to happen they cannot happen. However, they happen. I have been assailed for trying to do something about that. I assure this House that it is not just an obsessive preoccupation with contraception. I wish to God we could settle down, get this Bill through the House at 5 p.m. today and resume our normal, happy social relationship one with the other. Dick Walsh, political correspondent in The Irish Times said, “It looks as though they are making a show of themselves”. Asked again he said “No, they are making a holy show of themselves”. Let us not do that.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  The Minister in his opening remarks stated that it is common practice for young people in Ireland today when they go out together to have sexual intercourse and that it is well [521] known that young people going together over a period indulge in regular sexual intercourse.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I did not say that.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  Of course, the Minister did.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I did not.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  What did he say then?

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The Deputy must not have been listening.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  That is what I heard, and I am not deaf.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I qualified it in the classification. The Deputy is a teacher.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  I am repeating what the Minister said, and that is a terrible indictment on the performance of the young people.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  We have raised families and we hope that their standards of living are better than the picture the Minister has presented here today.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Deputy Gallagher, there are innumerable precedents here that when a Deputy is alleged or charged with saying something and he disclaims it, that disclaimer should be accepted.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  I heard what the Minister said and I am quite clear in my mind about it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I am telling Deputy Gallagher that he should accept the Minister's disclaimer.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  I was brought up in an environment where we were told what life is all about, what was noble and right in life. I hope that young people today [522] will follow the good example that has been set over the years in relation to matters of sex and living generally.

A Deputy:  Do not be codding yourself.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  If the Minister can prove to us that anything that he is bringing before this House is to be of any benefit to family life and to the children, then we will gladly accept that. However, this is an attack on family life. The family is the basic unit of society. We have today an example of what is happening. With vandalism in this city you can put all the gardaí you like on the streets and you can have the Criminal Justice Bill or any other Bill you want to bring in, but when you hit at the basic unit of society, the family, then society as a whole collapses. This is another attack on family life and the family generally. If the Minister thinks that introducing this legislation to make condoms and contraceptives available to young people will help the family and help parents to have their children raised and brought up in the standards which kept the family unit tight and solid, if he thinks he is doing anything for them in this legislation, then I am afraid he is away in cloud cuckoo land. The fact that we have more illegitimate births year by year and the other various things that the Minister quotes does not justify what he is doing now. People call us on this side of the House hypocrites. We on this side of the House stand for the family unit and the protection of the family and, therefore, I am glad to be called a hypocrite by Deputy Shatter and other people on that side. They can keep on calling us hypocrites because we stand for the protection of the family and family life.

A Deputy:  And the Republic.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  We know where the Deputy will be next Sunday. He has been acting the hypocrite in relation to the Criminal Justice Bill, and so has Deputy Shatter. They came in and spoke against every section of the Bill and then voted for it. They spent more time on the Criminal Justice Bill than did any other Deputy [523] in the House and they voted for every section of it. Let them not talk about hypocrites. They are the hypocrites.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  You are the Republicans.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  That is exactly what we are. If you do not know what de Valera did, he did not like the Treaty.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Interruptions must cease.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  What has the Treaty to do with contraceptives?

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  We cannot have interruptions from either side of the House.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  The Deputy has reflected on the Aran Islands. Perhaps he would tell us what is wrong with the islands?

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  There is nothing wrong with them.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  We are witnessing civil war sexual politics.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  I should prefer to live on the Aran Islands than at Islandbridge.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  I come from a part of the country from which in the past there was a great deal of emigration. At one time our people working in Scotland and in England had to live in accommodation in which there was often overcrowding and very little possibility of adequate separate accommodation, but as a result of the moral standards with which our people had been reared there were very few cases of illegitimate births among them. We should be emphasising the matter of discipline. People should be taught to discipline themselves. Instead, discipline has gone from the home and it is going from the schools. The Minister [524] for Education would be better occupied concentrating on the question of proper discipline in schools instead of concentrating on teaching children about matters of sex. When discipline disappears from the home and from the schools the effects are experienced throughout society, and that is what is happening today. People are being geared to follow their natural instincts with no mention of discipline. The introduction of this legislation will allow the availability of contraceptives to teenagers. We would be naive to think that these devices will not be passed on to young teenagers. I shudder to think of what we are doing to our young people by way of this legislation.

We are not doing anything for the family by way of this Bill though we must accept that the family unit is the basic unit in society. When we break up family life we bring about a breakdown in society, and it is because this is happening that there is so much vandalism not only in the cities but throughout the country. I support Deputy O'Hanlon's amendment. I consider it a reasonable amendment and one that should be accepted by anyone who has at heart the good of the country and of the family unit.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  To a large extent I sympathise with the idealistic, stylised concept of family life and mores indicated by Deputy Gallagher. He spoke of his hopes, his ideas and his wishes. But the problem is that we are not concerned here with what Deputy Gallagher hopes for; we are concerned with the realities and the practicalities of life in Ireland in 1985.

We must learn from the experiences of preceding years and take into account what is likely to be the case in the decades ahead. Unfortunately, and I use that word advisedly, the situation will not accord in the future with the hopes expressed by Deputy Gallagher. We cannot organise our legal system or our arrangements for the people on the basis of pious hopes, however admirable those hopes might be.

If Deputy O'Hanlon's amendment were to be adopted the law would be [525] saying to 18 years olds: “we, the Legislature, allow you to have sexual relations. That is perfectly acceptable and legal”. Then we would be going on to say that “while it is acceptable for you to associate sexually you may not take protective measures to ensure that unwanted pregnancies do not occur as a result of indulging in that sexual activity which we allow you legally to indulge in”. Surely that kind of legal system would be a nonsense and could not in all reason be accepted.

Deputy Gallagher argues with the Minister as to the extent of sexual activity among young people. I have not heard the Minister at any time suggest what Deputy Gallagher says he suggested, but there is no doubt that sexual activity occurs on an appreciable scale among young adults in our community. We are aware that 10 million contraceptive devices are used in the country each year. That fact speaks for itself, but we must face up to it and plan for it accordingly.

Reference was made to a letter from a number of consultants. Deputy Griffin referred to that letter, as also did Deputy O'Hanlon. Apparently these consultants are saying that condoms should not be made available readily. No doubt we could find 20 consultants who would say the opposite. I am sure we could find shopkeepers who are for the Bill and shopkeepers who are against it.

Mr. Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  The point is that other consultants have not refuted what is being said by the consultants who signed the letter. Certainly no other consultants have contacted me on the matter.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  It has been refuted by a number of consultants. I have been lobbied by eminent consultants and gynaecologists in the city on this subject, so let us not assume that the 13 consultants who communicated with Deputy Griffin are in a monopoly situation or that they are representing anything but their own sincerely held views. I accept that their views are sincere but I would say that there are consultants in greater numbers who hold a contrary view.

There is talk as to what the views of [526] the people would be in regard to overwhelming majorities and so on, but I should like to refer in some greater detail to the survey undertaken by the Health Education Bureau and to which the Minister referred briefly in his opening speech at Second Stage. That report is concerned directly with the points in Deputy O'Hanlon's amendment and it contains some interesting reading and analyses. It was published in March 1984 and was commissioned by Irish Marketing Surveys Limited. The survey was based on a sample of 689 adults.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  A huge number.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  These were adults between the ages of 18 and 50. The interviewing was conducted at 16 locations throughout the country. The survey showed that seven out of ten people identified themselves in favour of the general availability of contraceptives with an age constraint. One-quarter of the total sample favoured the concept of contraceptives being available only to married couples.

The survey went on to deal with the definitive options on age limits. It showed that four out of every ten consulted felt it was not appropriate to set any lower age limit whatsoever. A further one-fifth of the total sample prescribed an age limit of less than 18 years and 23 per cent opted for 18 years as an appropriate age limit while the remainder nominated age limits at a higher level. In overall terms it amounts to this: six out of every ten adults in the age span covered by the survey, that is, 18 to 50 years, felt either that there should be no age limit or that an age limit of less than 18 years should be imposed. That is a very powerful indicator if one accepts that survey, which was independently commissioned and objectively carried out. This is a very firm base of support for the parameters set by the Minister in this Bill.

The concept is put abroad, and I heard it enunciated yet again in this House this morning — it is a most remarkable proposition — that the more condoms are made available the greater will be the resulting [527] illegitimacies in the community and the greater will be the transmission of sexual diseases in the community. As a proposition that is arrant nonsense and a complete negation of the facts. If condoms are used their object, which is 90 per cent successful, is the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and their secondary factor is the prevention of the transmission of sexual diseases. The idea that young people are just waiting for the availability of condoms to indulge in sexual activity is not the fact. Sexual activity is taking place using the ten million condoms that are available, and the purport and net effect of the Bill, and this section in particular, will not increase the usage of condoms but will merely legalise the present situation which is widespread, and will prevent this part of the legal system, beginning with the 1935 Act to the 1979 Act, continuing in a state of complete and utter disrepute.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  I support this amendment because I believe the provisions in the 1979 Act are adequate. Three polls conducted in December 1983, August 1984 and February 1985 showed that on average 60 per cent of the people were satisfied with the present contraceptive laws. This morning we heard from various speakers, but particularly from the Minister, a lecture on how we as legislators are out of touch with reality. I fail to understand how he can make such a generalisation. He has spoken very professionally and told this House that these are minor changes. He referred to but did not quote section 5 of the 1979 Act regarding the opportunity under that Act for people to procure and import contraceptive devices in the State by sending outside the State for them or by going outside the State to procure them. I would like to quote section 5 of that Act:

(1) A person shall not import contraceptives into the State unless—

(a) they are part of his personal luggage accompanying him when he [528] is entering the State and their quantity is not such as to indicate that they are not solely for his own use, or

(b) he is, or is the servant or agent acting as such of, a person who holds a licence granted to him under this section and for the time being in force and the importation is in accordance with the licence.

This section clearly sets out the constraints vis-à-vis the importation of contraceptive devices. It allows for people coming to this country for business or pleasure——

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  What kind of pleasure?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  But nobody with an Irish passport.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  The Deputy can take whatever meaning he likes from it.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Deputy Skelly can take whatever meaning he wants out of the use of the word “pleasure”. When I speak of pleasure I am thinking of people who come visiting or who make a contribution financially or economically to this country.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  The Deputy is talking about bringing in contraceptives.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  The law allows them to bring in their own personal requirements——

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  Are they going to use them on their own?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Order, please.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  The law is very explicit. Under paragraph (b) people cannot import these devices unless they have a licence. There is no way the Minister can mislead this House by saying that the 1979 Act gives other latitudes.

[529]Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): Do they allow 13 year olds to have them?

Mr. Calleary: Information on Seán Calleary  Zoom on Seán Calleary  Deputy Barrett is nearly as bad as Deputy Skelly.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Deputy Shatter spoke about broken marriages, of married partners moving out of their official partnership and moving in with another person and he questioned the bona fide situation. I may not have as much education as Deputy Shatter but I understood bona fide to mean in good faith. The 1979 Act respects the trust and confidence of the normal natural couple in a married partnership. On the production of a single medical prescription it is possible for these people to procure the necessary contraceptive devices. The bona fide situation as far as we are concerned would transfer to either of those partners moving in to another relationship and obtaining those devices.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  At what age?

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  The Deputy should know, the law by now. A number of speakers on the opposite benches spoke about ages. I respect Deputy Bell who has just left the House. He did not get an opportunity to speak yesterday.

Mrs. Barnes: Information on Monica Barnes  Zoom on Monica Barnes  Like many Deputies on that side of the House.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  On another occasion Deputy Bell said he went to England as a young teenager. He talked about his experiences over there. He talked about his own 15 year old boy. When he asked him did he know what he was looking at, he was able to pull them out of his pocket. Surely that is a conclusive evidence that if what is proposed in this Bill by the Government is passed, contraceptive devices will be available ad lib throughout the country to any young person. There is no point in trying to hoodwink the people or in trying to create an impression in this Parliament that that will not [530] be the case. It is the case and it will be the case.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): Fianna Fáil are trying to delete the age of 18 years. They want to give them to young people.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  The Minister referred to the great excitement this Bill has created. The only excitement it has created is the excitement which was obvious last night and this morning on the faces of the Taoiseach and the Minister as a result of the closeness of the vote and the narrow escape they had. That will be proven conclusively on another occasion. The Minister talked about how we emerged from this terrible system of education and family life and wondered how we survived. Surely that is a suggestion that there is something wrong with our educational system and family life. This is a total attack on normal natural family life. It is promoting, as if it is the natural thing to do, the use of contraceptive devices by single, young, innocent teenagers.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): That is nonsense.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  It is trying to create the impression that this is the normal type of life which should be promoted. We on this side of the House have been called hypocrites. In the budget the Govern-ment attacked the family. The Minister failed to acknowledge the importance of the mother in the home. We have taken a responsible attitude consistently throughout this debate.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  Responsible?

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  The Government imposed a family property tax. They are constantly attacking the family unit and we see the same thing in this Bill.

Mrs. Barnes: Information on Monica Barnes  Zoom on Monica Barnes  The Deputy should get women's reactions to the present and past family unit in Ireland.

[531]Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  What about children's allowances?

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  We were given a figure of 10 per cent as the failure rate of contraceptive devices. These are World Health Organisation statistics. If we make them more freely available, that rate will go up. There is no point in denying that.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  That argument is based on a false premise.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  I hope that responsible minded Members of this House will ensure that, in the interests of the majority of the Irish people and in the interests of preserving normal natural family life, this section of the Bill will be rejected when an opportunity presents itself later today.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  Give us the reasons.

Mr. J. Doyle: Information on Joseph Doyle  Zoom on Joseph Doyle  I am glad Deputy Tunney is in the House. He said earlier that some Members on this side of the House voted for the Bill last night because of political pressure. I was a short time in this House when an issue came before us about which I felt deeply. I walked through the lobbies with Members of the Opposition. I walked in partnership with Deputy O'Hanlon, if he remembers. That was a painful experience which Members on the other side of the House are not allowed to have. If I felt as strongly about this issue as I did about that issue I would take the same course of action. One of the main factors which helped me to decide how I would vote was an interpretation I got of the 1979 Bill. An interpreter is needed because the terminology is so loose.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy's interpreter misled him.

Mr. J. Doyle: Information on Joseph Doyle  Zoom on Joseph Doyle  Deputy Tunney talked about things creeping into our society which are not welcome. I am sad to say that they crept in a long time ago. Over the past 15 years I have been saddened to see the behaviour of young people [532] in their human relationships. They have behaved in an irresponsible fashion. I am also saddened by infidelity within marriage. I would do anything I could to promote a better way of life for our young and for our married people. We must face the facts and have the courage to do something. If we accept Deputy O'Hanlon's amendment we are sweeping the problem under the carpet again and not facing up to it honestly. In supporting the Government last night I had to be honest with myself and with the young people of Ireland. When this Bill is passed at 5 o'clock today, for the first time in a long time we will have faced up honestly to the problems before us.

Mr. Wyse: Information on Pearse Wyse  Zoom on Pearse Wyse  I listened to many of the contributions made in this debate. I want to address my remarks to the Govern-ment side without any offence. We all respect each other's beliefs. I stand over that principle.

Even before the Minister sat down to prepare this legislation it was obvious to everyone that contraceptives would be freely available as a result of this Bill. I challenge anybody to contradict what I am saying. Fine Gael felt that they should not be freely available to young people. There had to be a compromise then to get the Bill before the House. This is where all the confusion has arisen. Neither the members of the Fine Gael nor the Labour Parties could contradict the statements made by one of their members. There was complete confusion among them. To get this Bill through the House there had to be a compromise.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): Who gave you all this wrong information?

Mr. Wyse: Information on Pearse Wyse  Zoom on Pearse Wyse  I never interrupted anyone in this House and I expect——

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It was Deputy Oliver J. Flanagan——

Mr. Wyse: Information on Pearse Wyse  Zoom on Pearse Wyse  ——the same courtesy from others. One side are saying that contraceptives are not freely available and the other side are saying that they are. [533] Deputy Shatter in his contribution this morning talked about a young person of 18 arriving at Dublin Airport with a bag full of contraceptives. As soon as this Bill is enacted any young person can walk into chemist shops and fill a bag with contraceptives to be distributed to 13 year olds. Contraceptives are freely available to everybody, and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

I appreciate the Minister's position as he stands in the middle of all this confusion trying to defend the compromise that was made. The Minister said that our young people are riddled with problems. We as legislators should direct our efforts towards helping them. People are being mugged in their homes, cars are being hijacked and we cannot cope, with it. Because we cannot cope, is the answer to legalise it?

I was at a youth exhibition in Cork last Sunday. Young Fine Gael, Ógra Fianna Fáil and many other youth groups exhibited their work there. I made a point of not mentioning this Bill to see if some young person would question me about it. I talked to maybe 100 young people for the best part of an hour and a half and not one mentioned this Bill, despite the fact that we were told that here was a demand for it. I have a long association with young people and I have never heard anyone asking for this type of legislation.

If the young people are riddled with problems, what are the Minister or the Government doing about it? In the last general election we were promised by Fine Gael and the Labour Party that they would introduce a comprehensive Family Planning Bill. Is this the promised Bill? When the Minister talked about problems I would have assumed that he would attempt to deal with them by bringing in a more comprehensive Bill. In this Bill we are just discussing one item. It is a disappointment to everyone. It is like the review of the income tax code, everything is being brought in piecemeal, or is it just breaking ground for more legislation attacking family life? I am not playing politics in this instance, it is far too serious an issue. I hope there will be second thoughts on this legislation. I fully [534] appreciate the views that were expressed here. The views expressed came from informed consciences in many cases. Confusion was brought about by the compromise arrived at to get this Bill through the House.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. J. Doyle: Information on Joseph Doyle  Zoom on Joseph Doyle  What compromise are you talking about, Deputy?

Mr. Wyse: Information on Pearse Wyse  Zoom on Pearse Wyse  If the Deputy wishes to reply to that, by all means——

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  We do not want to——

Mr. Wyse: Information on Pearse Wyse  Zoom on Pearse Wyse  I am giving my personal opinion.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  What is the compromise?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Would Deputy Skelly allow the Deputy to conclude?

Mr. Wyse: Information on Pearse Wyse  Zoom on Pearse Wyse  The Deputy knows that they have been playing with this legislation for months. Why is the age 18 mentioned at all? The age 18 was mentioned as a compromise. The Government are telling the people indirectly that contraceptives are now freely available. The Minister should try to be honest and should accept the motion by our spokesman on health. The Minister has brought confusion to this House. The two parties are trying to find a way out. If this legislation went to the country tomorrow it would fail.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I want to make two points. One relates to the question of enforcement, which has been a major issue. It is my intention to avail of a provision in section 91 of the Health Act, 1947 to formally appoint appropriate medical doctors to monitor the operations of the provisions of the Family Planning Act. This will be of benefit to everybody. It will be of benefit to my Department in terms of being kept aware of what is going on and it will be of benefit [535] in terms of enforcement. Deputy Conlon raised the question of conscientious objections, and I would point out that section 2 of the 1979 Act is in force and will continue to be in force. As under the 1979 Act, the exercise of conscientious objection in relation to this matter still applies. There are persons in our health services — we employ 60,000 full time and 3,000 part time workers — who may object on conscientious grounds to becoming involved at all. All morning I have listened to Fianna Fáil objections. They remind me of a quotation attributed to the late Eamon de Valera — I am not sure whether he said it. The quotation is this:

In England people do what they like but they always say the right thing. In Ireland people do the right thing but they always say what they like.

That characterises a good deal of Fianna Fáil contributions here today.

Mr. Calleary: Information on Seán Calleary  Zoom on Seán Calleary  Will the doctors whom the Minister will appoint to do the monitoring be from the Department of Health?

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  They will be from the health services and supervised by the Department of Health.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  We are discussing amendment No. 5a which seeks to delete the section of the Bill that would enable persons of 18 years or older to purchase contraceptives. Various arguments have been made in support of that amendment, and from those arguments it seems to me the Fianna Fáil position has changed. At Second Stage they argued very strongly that their opposition was political and that they did not take any position in regard to contraceptives per se. As far as they were concerned, people were entitled to use contraceptives if they saw fit. The opposition was political, because it was an opportune time to do down the Coalition and to create divisions in the Coalition.

Fianna Fáil changed that position this [536] morning. All their arguments today have been that this section of the Bill will attack the traditional family here, that in some way it will undermine some glorious system of family life which existed and still exists in Ireland. No one in Fianna Fáil has attempted to define what he means by this marvellous family life which Fianna Fáil imagine existed or exists — some normal family life. I should like someone on the Fianna Fáil benches to define what they mean by normal family life. Tell us in detail what it means. What kind of values does it imply?

We can have a legitimate family in the eyes of the State when there has been a marriage, or we can have an illegitimate family in the eyes of the State, of which we have many — people who live together and have families outside marriage. One of the primary objectives must be to keep families together as families. It seems to me that Fianna Fáil bear a very heavy responsibility for having destroyed families here, virtually from the time they took power and during nearly the entire life of the State. We must consider that one million people who were born on this island are living in Britain. Is that not the destruction of Irish family life in a fundamental way? Is that not a breach of some kind of morality or other?

What Fianna Fáil seem to get hot about is sexuality. Everything seems to hinge on sexuality. So long as we ignore that sex takes place, whether inside or outside marriage, we do not have to concern ourselves thereafter. We must have laws that give the impression that a normal society exists, whatever that may be. I am at a loss to know what “a normal society” is, because there is so much variety. We talk about the average man or the average woman. There is no such thing as average or normal in those terms. Therefore, can somebody in Fianna Fáil explain precisely what is meant by traditional family life, and what criteria do they apply to establish what that is?

We all know how poverty impinges on family life. There is plenty of evidence of it in fiction and history. We know also [537] how a narrow approach to sexuality has impinged on family life with, as the Minister has said, people ending up in asylums. There was some popularity recently for a TV play called “The Ballroom of Romance”, which outlined clearly the kind of nod and wink about sexuality and the distortion of human relationships which we are led to believe existed and which we are told was the traditional way of family life in Ireland. Is that the kind of tradition we want to establish or to maintain?

We have been told that as a result of this Bill thousands of young people will gallop down the streets, presumably to the family planning clinics in Cathal Brugha Street or elsewhere, and load up with contraceptives. It strikes me as extremely odd that in an education system nearly totally controlled by the Roman Catholic Church there is so little confidence in the ability of that church to ensure that its ethos, views and morality will be transferred to the youth of the country. Recently I read a paper presented by a Christian Brother in 1983 on the importance of the church maintaining control of the educational system in order to transfer its values to succeeding generations. Are the people opposing the Bill arguing that the Catholic Church has failed? I do not believe it has. Unfortunately, I think that in certain respects it has succeeded too well. On sexual morality the question arises of whether the youth of Ireland will run riot buying and using contraceptives. That argument is too ridiculous to contemplate.

That young people do not come up to Deputy Wyse and me and ask “How about getting this Bill through?” does not mean that they are not concerned about the questions of family planning. I know for a fact that they are concerned. They see problems in their own families, with their friends, on the roads and streets, in the estates, about the availability of contraceptives to those who are sexually active — and will be sexually active whether there are contraceptives available or not — which would, at least, prevent the tragedy of unwanted pregnancies.

[538] The suprious argument is made again that this section of the Bill is in some way legalising promiscuity. The comparison is made between muggings and sexual activity. This is a strange relationship of ideas. The idea that there is a relationship between the availability of contraceptives and sexual relationships does not stand. You might as well say that muggings were being legalised because you were legalising contraceptives. The logic of that argument is that to prevent burglaries you must outlaw screwdrivers, glass cutters, cars, that you must prevent the sale of petrol to people under 18 years and so on. It is ridiculous. It does not hold water and is an illogicality.

Many declarations have been made in this House about values, without those values being spelled out. There has been much talk about the sacredness of the family and the institution and tradition of family life, without defining what is meant. Those who are opposing this Bill will have to define what they are talking about when they say that they are speaking on behalf of the parents of this country. I am a parent of this country and I am not talking on my behalf. I am not talking on behalf of any of the parents to whom I have spoken within the past two weeks.

One individual deliberately approached me during the last two weeks, questioning me about this family planning legislation. He was a man close to 60 years of age, a carpenter. He said that what Fianna Fáil are saying is total nonsense. He could not understand it. He told me that in 1947 he was involved in the building trade in this city on the building sites and was then 17 years of age. He said that his workmates were going to Belfast, buying contraceptives there, bringing them back to Dublin and selling them to their workmates — in 1947. This debate is painful to listen to.

Finally this country is a signatory of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights ratified in 1969 when Fianna Fáil were in Government. Those rights include the right to choose the number and spacing of one's children and the right to safe and appropriate methods of [539] contraception and women's health care services.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The 1979 Act does all that.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  The Fianna Fáil Party argue that we are wasting our time discussing this Bill. It is they who are wasting the time of this House, in refusing to accept the realities of Irish society today and that there is need for change, for getting rid of the cur i gceill, the nod and the wink in relation to sexual activity.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Deputy Treacy is a nice fellow, but if I were charged with making nominations and drawing up a short list for an award for Hard Neck of 1985, he would be on it. It could be called, perhaps, the Brian Lenihan Award.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Which Deputy Treacy?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Deputy Noel Treacy. I visualise that award as consisting of a neatly sculpted head, rather like one of the smaller ones over there, of our dear colleague, Deputy Lenihan, most of the head being made of timber and the neck of brass. That is the kind of reaction which I find irresistible when I hear an intelligent and educated man like Deputy Treacy — although he has tried to suggest that to say that much about him was saying too much — in 1985——

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  That is a poor form of defence when the Deputy has to turn to personal abuse.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  ——when Deputy Treacy wilfully interprets section 5 of the 1979 Act as applying only to foreigners. It would make one wonder if one had been put into a time machine and we were still in 1935, that if one looked around a little more closely and rubbed my eyes, one would find Seán Mac Entee and Seán T. O'Kelly over there and over at this side James Fitzgerald Kenny and long forgotten figures like that. How is it seriously [540] possible for an adult man, no longer in his first youth, to talk like that?

He says that a person under section 5 of the present Act shall not import contraceptives into the State unless they are part of his personal luggage, accompanying him when he is entering the State. I do not think that anybody reminded the House of the next item — and that their quantity is not such as to indicate that they are not solely for his own use. When that section first arrived here, it caused a roar of horse laugh which was heard everywhere except within these ivory chambers. Now I hear that that section was really envisaged, although it does not say so, as only bearing on foreigners, tourists, people who do not have the priceless advantage of being brought up in the beatific vision of Irish morality and the Irish State. It refers to the kind of people, in other words, who would want to make love when they were on holidays and would not want to face the consequences, people who might want to bring in these things in their luggage. Even then, of course, it would be a scandal to the world that even a Pole or a Dutchman was allowed to have that normal dimension to his desire, because he is only allowed to bring in, according to Deputy Treacy's reading of this Bill, as many devices as an Irish customs officer would think suitable. Did you ever in your life hear such rubbish?

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the Deputy amending that section?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I heard a Deputy over on this side, I think it was Deputy Bell——

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Why does the Deputy not amend the section if he does not like it?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  You did nothing all the years that you were there, but I shall come to that in a second. I must admit that I have not had this experience myself, but Deputy Bell said this morning that he had the experience of going into the bar and hearing people there privately saying that they had absolutely no [541] fault to find with the Bill, but yet come in here and damn it. I must admit that I have not come across that depth of hypocrisy in the sense that I could narrate the story in the way Deputy Bell did, but perhaps it exists. I do not particularly fault the Deputies on the far side because it is very hard to break the habit of a political lifetime and let your party down, no matter how wrongheaded your party seem to you to be. It is hard to do that and I do not fault Deputies X or Y for behaving like that. However, I suspect that Deputy Treacy is in that category. Only somebody quite indifferent to whether he was thought honest or otherwise could possibly produce an argument resting on the implication that the first part of section 5 of the 1979 Bill was only intended to mean foreigners. Does he not know perfectly well that the 1979 Act is being breached, day in day out, and not only in isolated cases but massively? That is why there is no public demand, that is why there is no outcry. That is why Deputy Wyse is able to go around the Cork Festival of Youth, but would none of the youths, if their pockets were turned inside out, be guilty?

None of them up there would even bother their heads to mention such a thing to Deputy Wyse because they do not need his help. Of course, that does not worry the likes of Deputy Treacy or his colleagues. They have a neat, tight and right little act going and whether it is obeyed or disobeyed is all the one to them just as, I regret to say — this bears on both sides of the House — it is all the one whether the law on illegal broadcasting is observed or not, it is all one whether the law on litter is observed or not and it is all one whether the law on delivering drink to under age people is observed or not. Somehow it is only when a law like this is not observed and an attempt is made — I am not all that sanguine about how good it is going to be as an attempt — to tidy it up that the roof falls in and that we get thunderings from all around the country.

To return to what Deputy Treacy said about foreigners and their luggage, I can recall while a student working for two [542] summers at Dublin Airport. I was 18 years of age at that time and I recall a Customs officer confiscating a woman's vanity case, or something of that type, and innocent and ignorant though I was I thought it an outrage that something had been taken from her intimate baggage and removed. Why had it been removed? It was shown around Dublin Airport to the roars of laughter of some of the staff — it is so long ago that I do not remember whose roars of laughter they were; perhaps it was not the Customs and it may have been my own part of the airport. The contents of the bag were shown around and they included something which in later years I came to realise was a diaphragm. At that time I thought that was an outrage although I did not have the courage to say so. The idea that people's luggage can be inspected is still clearly implied in Deputy Haughey's Act, because the quantity has to measure up to the norms and the criteria of the Customs officer.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is that being amended in the Bill?

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  It is not; he is a hypocrite.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  We have heard about bona fides and good faith. That was the point at which he begged compassion for his relative, as he thought it would be accepted, lack of education compared to Deputy Shatter. There is no relativity whatever in it. He is well able to deal with Deputy Shatter, or anybody else, and, therefore, there is less of an excuse for him to produce an argument like this. Our Act, he said, contains the words bona fide. With elaborate sarcasm he said that the words bona fide meant in good faith. Deputy Treacy, while he may not be as old as I am, is not a boy either and he may have heard of the bona fide system. I should like to give the House another bit of my student recollections. Under the bona fide system public houses on the rim of the city, because of the way the licensing law worked up to 1960, were permitted by law to remain open one hour up to an hour and a half after those [543] in the city closed. The point about the bona fide in it was that only those who were bona fide travellers could be served in those hours. However, it was notorious in every pub. Matt Smyths, The Goat and The Boot on the north side were stuffed from the time pubs closed in the city until they could be thrown out at midnight or 30 minutes after midnight. The people there were not bona fide travellers. They were bona fide in a sense that they bona fide wanted a drink, were bona fide willing to drive three or four miles to get a drink and would bona fide drive home again. That was the only bona fide in it. It is late in the day to be pointing to the phrase bona fide as being a guarantee of anything. We made enough fun of the 1979 Act when it was going through, the Irish solution to the Irish problem.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy is always advocating Irish solutions to Irish problems, and I agree with him.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  It was and is a sleeveen solution. I know what the Minister is trying to get rid of and I am solemnly with him although we probably disagree about the National Development Corporation and a range of other things. The idea that somehow no evil can be imputed or anything said which would allow it even be suspected about our own people is wrong. It is like in the fifties when there were references in pastoral letters, from the pulpit and by film critics, to stage shows such as those in which the innocent little Royalettes took part, or the shows that took place at intervals in theatres which for most people only held up the interval between the pictures, to cross-channel artists with their dubious routines. We were told we had to watch out for the cross-channel artists with their dubious routines. The country is full of dubious artists of our own. There is no shortage of them, and it was full of them some years ago.

In a small way it is like a piece of cant that used to go around UCD when I was a student there, that whenever some piece of quite spectacular savagery took [544] place at the college, some piece of Vandalic magnitude in terms of destruction of property or interference with human beings, is was attributed to people from outside the college. It was never our own dear students letting off steam; it was always people outside the college who were to blame for tearing notices off the board and so on. If the Bill does not do anything else but dismantle a few bricks from that wall of cant we all grew up behind it will have deserved to pass through the House.

I believe Deputy Gallagher genuinely misheard the Minister, but although he is not in the House I hope it reaches him that I believe he clearly misunderstood what the Minister said in regard to the connection between illegitimacy and contraception. I understood the Minister to say not that most young people were engaged in irregular liaisons. I did not hear him say such a thing but he did say that when pregnancies resulted from irregular liaisons they were in most cases from relationships with steady boy friends. There is a big difference between that and what Deputy Gallagher understood him to say. I hope Deputy Gallagher has the honour not to go chasing around his constituency repeating what he has taken the Minister to have meant.

Nobody would make little or fun of the hopes he expressed for our young people, but the reality is that the Act has been effectively torn up. It was never really worth the paper it was written on. It is defied day in, day out. The idea that Deputy Gallagher is defending anything worth defending by opposing the passage of the Bill merely in deference to his own idealistic hopes which all of us probably share in one measure or another is nonsense. He is not doing any such thing. That point of view on the part of Deputy Gallagher is all of a piece with what a great section of his party had been identified with since the debate started, previously in the debate on the 1979 Act and before that again when Deputy Cooney's Bill was on its stumbling passage through the House in 1974. It is all of a piece with what went on since I was first elected to the Seanad. I was elected to the Seanad [545] at the same time as Senator Mary Robinson, who became in those days almost a one issue Senator. I do not think it is unfair to refer to her in that manner. One thing she tried to do week after weary week in the Seanad was to get on to the floor of that House the question of birth control, of family planning and contraception. I want to remind the House that that was before the McGee case and before the Supreme Court, or any other court, had ruled on a matter to do with this in any shape or form. Day after day she was literally trampled on by the Fianna Fáil majority of the day led by Senator Tommy Mullins, a man I grew to be very fond of. I am afraid it is the curse of politics that one ends up rather fond of people that one starts out thinking of as terrible rogues. In the days I thought of him as a rouge part of the reason I thought so was the brutal contempt with which he and the whole Fianna Fáil Party in the Seanad treated Senator Robinson. She was as much entitled as any other Senator to have something discussed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Are we still on the Bill?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Certainly, a Cheann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I was just wondering.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Fond reminiscences of a professor.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  That was in 1969. We were told the reason there was no time or place to allow Senator Robinson to introduce the question of family planning or birth control into the Seanad was that the Government of the day were maturely considering the matter and would in due course legislate on it. Sir, 1969 came and went; 1970 came and went; 1971 came and went — and Senator Robinson was still endeavouring to get the subject even discussed. She could not even get a First Reading for her Bill.

[546] Progress reported; Committee to sit again.


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