I beg to nominate Mr. McGrath as Minister for Industry and Commerce, which will absorb the Ministry of Labour and Economics.
INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE.
I may say I stand absolutely in support of everything necessary to maintain the Government in office until it carries through its work, but I do not think that appointments which may lead to inefficiency are likely to sustain them in office. I may say that I am not making any adverse criticism of the Minister suggested-I think he has done excellent work, but I do think it is bad business from the point of view of the State to merge these two great offices under one head. These in normal times are of vital importance in the national life. Each of them would require the full time and attention of a very able head. Now, we must face facts. One of the facts we have to face to-day is that our new administrators are, at the best, not much better than raw amateurs. I say that without meaning any disrespect, for, I think, as amateurs they have achieved great work for the nation; but, my judgement, it would require a superman to give the attention necessary to both these Departments at the present time. Now, Mr. McGrath has given evidence of great ability, but he certainly is not a superman. My opinion is this, that if you merge two large and important Departments such as these under one head it is going to lead to Departmental inefficiency and Departmental confusion. The Heads of the Departments will not be able to do that which in my judgment is essential for the service of the nation at the present time. It is something more than merely taking over control of a Department—something more than acting as the nominal Head of a Department. They have to grasp every detail of the administration of the Department and import into these Departments the force and the influence of their own personalities. I say one of these Departments is enough for men who are new to administration to discharge efficiently, and I say that the merging of two of these great Departments under one head is not giving the head of those Departments a fair chance, and the result will be you will be unable to cope with the control and development of those Departments, and the Civil Servants taken over under the old regime will take control and run these Departments. It is not fair to the Ministry, and it is a false step on the part of the Government, and they should seriously consider whether or not a revision of these two Departments should be made, and the Departments severed—or at least placed under separate heads—in order to secure that the vital life of the nation shall get due service. Remember after all that the people at the head of these Departments have no particular need to worry about the police measures that are being engaged in to quell the disturbances in the country. There is no reason why the formulating of an economic social policy should be held up until the end of these disturbances. I think those in charge of these great Departments of national life, if their work is held up for the time being, they should be thinking out and planning and arranging the basis of a policy of economic progress that will come into operation when these disturbances have ceased. If you place a man at the head of two large Departments, you will be unable to develop such a policy of social and economic progress. I want to make my position, perfectly clear. I am saying this now in a spirit of help and not in a spirit of acrimonious criticism. If the two Departments had been severed I should not have said a word, but I think it is a fatal blunder to have them merged. I think it is right, especially, that members of this Dáil should speak their minds, and those who support the Government should tell the Government when they believe that something is being done that is not the best thing. I do not want to press this to a division, but I do want to urge on the Government, and on the Ministry, and on the President, to consider this matter seriously. The Ministry of Trade and Commerce and the Ministry of Labour are two of the most vital Departments of the nation's life. Upon the efficient administration of these two Departments the progress and social stability of the nation's immediate Future are going to depend. They are the two Departments of the nation which require efficient service and clear sound brainwork. The merging of them is creating a situation where it is almost impossible to secure that efficient service to the nation. Therefore I want to ventilate this criticism of mine upon that point.
There are Ministers who, I understand, hold positions in the Army. They are being nominated to-day. I want to ask are they going to hold these dual positions. I think that ought to be taken into consideration as well as what Deputy Milroy states.
That is a matter for the President to answer.
Do I answer that now or at the end?
It would be perhaps better to answer it at the end of the discussion.
Mr. Chairman, at the recent election, one of the things upon which insistent emphasis was laid was the need of a strong Government; and in the interval since the election we have lost, according to speakers to-day, two of the most important Members of the Government that existed heretofore. Now are we to understand that the method of giving, the country a strong Government is to diminish the Ministries? There are in the proposal just made by the President of An Dáil two things, one a proposal, a very serious one, to abolish a Ministry by coalescence with another. That is conjoined with the proposition that one individual do fill the two. I would like to suggest as a matter of procedure that we be allowed to debate the first. I agree absolutely with Deputy Milroy that there are no more important Departments, except perhaps Education, than the Department of Labour and the Department of Trade. It seems to me, with all respect to the President, that rather we should prefer to multiply than to unify Ministries. The Cabinet must not be sectional. We are here representing not sections but the entire people. We profess that we are the expression of the people's will as registered in the recent elections. It seems to me that a strong Government could be better secured if, instead of reducing the Ministries, the number should be fixed so as to include the best ability of the country. At the present moment the country is passing through a very dangerous strait; it needs all the help and all the guidance and all the loyal support it can receive from every section of the community; and it is putting an undue strain on the loyalty of those who were not Members of the last Dáil, to expect them fully to acquiesce in arrangements of the reasons for which they have, absolutely, no knowledge. I for one think it necessary, as Deputy Milroy has done, to express the criticism which occurs to me as a criticism necessary at this juncture, without in any way intending to hamper the work of the Government. As regards affairs which it is imperatively necessary to carry through with urgency and o despatch there is nothing so necessary, at the present moment, as attention to all that complex of problems which are usually termed Labour problems. Unless we can secure that there is a Department devoting concentrated energy and the highest ability to these questions, there is danger that we simply drift into a war policy, leaving everything else lagging behind. I would like the President, therefore, to give us an opportunity of debating his proposal to merge those Ministries rather than to tempt us to adopt this thing through any unwillingness to vote against his nominee.
I would like to say just a few words on this subject. I have been Minister for Economic Affairs of the Provisional Government. The name is, perhaps, somewhat grandiose. The Provisional Government did not select it originally, but it was selected by the ex-President of Dáil Eireann, and the idea was that, in forming a small War Cabinet, a post should be found for Mr. Barton, who at that time was lately released from Portland. Mr. Barton spoke for the Departments of Trade, Commerce, Agriculture, and Labour. The heads of those Departments were excluded from the inner Cabinet. Now there is talk here of cutting down Ministries. In fact, there was a Ministry of Trade and Commerce of Dáil Eireann, and there was this Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Provisional Government, to which to a large extent it was an amplification. That was due to the peculiar position at the time, and the dual control which a great many people, including ourselves, found awkward. It has been said that there was enough work for a separate Labour Ministry. It was strange that this very proposal came up at about the same time from the experts of the Labour Department and the Ministry of Economics without any consultation between the two, because there was overlapping. It was impossible to take an all-round view of the conditions of the country without coming up against the wages question and other important problems, and it will be admitted that there is a very real and close connection between the development of industry and unemployment. The Labour Department should not be a mere strike-settling department. It should not be a question of dealing out doles. It should be a question, of seeing to the two needs—the need of providing work for the unemployed and the need for developing to the full all the resources of the country. It is in that spirit that the change wae made. The view is that one big economic department corresponding to the British Board of Trade is the ideal way of facing the social problems that confront us—the problem of unemployment and the problem also of developing the resources of the country. I believe that one able man with such ability as Mr. McGrath had shown will be very well able to run that Department, and that those proposals, so far from making for looseness or inefficiency, will secure that the best possible attention will be devoted to these questions.
Lest the silence of our Members might be misinterpreted, I desire to say that the Labour Members favour this proposed change. They think it a desirable change. We think that the Labour Department ought not to be confined to the settling of strikes; that the having of a separate Labour Ministry is following the English model, and in this respect, as well as others, it is not desirable.
Regarding the position of the Members of the Government being in the Army, we hope to be able to get Mr. McGrath away from the Army very shortly. He has given us a good deal of his time as it is. We hope to be able to get him back there shortly. I think, with one other exception, the Minister for Defence, there was not any other Member of the Government in the Army.
I did not refer particularly to Deputy McGrath when I spoke about dual positions. I think it very undesirable that any of your Ministers now being nominated should continue to hold positions in the Army.
On a point of information, may I ask whether the Minister for Home Affairs who is nominated is still to be connected with the Army? This is on the general question of Army officers. The President has just said "with the exception of one other Minister," whom I presume will be the Minister for Defence.
The President has said that with the exception of one other Minister, who is the Minister for Defence, there are no other Ministers.
Is that the President's reply?
There is no other meaning of the words used by the President.
Is it the fact?
The Dáil approved of Mr. McGrath's nomination.