Public Business. - Nomination of Ministers.


Go n-aontuíonn an Dáil le hainm-niúchán na dTeachtaí seo leanas mar Airí, chun bheith ina mbaill den Ard-Chomhairle agus i gceannas na Ranna atá ainmnithe anso síos:—

Gearóid O Beoláin, i gceannas na Roinne Tailte;

Oscar MacThréinfhir i gceannas na Roinne Puist agus Telegrafa.

That the Dáil assents to the nomination of the following Deputies as Ministers, to be members of the Executive Council, and in charge of the Departments named hereunder:—

Deputy Gerald Boland in charge of the Department of Lands;

Deputy Oscar Traynor in charge of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.

Any reason?

No reason? They are appointed for no reason and transferred for no reason.

I came across a case in County Tipperary of a person with a small farm on which there was an annuity of about £9, which was 12 months in arrear. It was the case of a person who had conscientiously paid the land annuities, year in year out, without any difficulty arising between himself and the Land Commission. He received a notice a short time ago that unless the £9 odd arrears which were due for 12 months were not paid by the 13th November, the farm would be sold. It was the home farm of the person who got the notice. I should like to know if we can have any information now about that particular district, because I am quite sure, and I am so informed, that there are large numbers of people whose Land Commission annuities are substantially longer outstanding and where the amounts are very much greater. I am told that political discrimination enters into the question of dealing with the collection of land annuities in that area.

I would like to hear the Deputy relate that allegation to the motion before the House.

I want to ask if the change which is contemplated in the motion, and in the person who is going to be responsible for the Department of Lands, indicates that there is going to be a change of policy, and that persons who, in the present very difficult economic circumstances in the country, are a year in arrear in respect of their Land Commission annuities— persons who have been good pays in the past and are, perhaps, better in that respect than a lot of their neighbours—are going to be harassed by the Land Commission by notices of sale of their holdings based, it has to be admitted, to a large extent on purely political considerations. I want to know whether that type of action is going to be intensified in the change that is contemplated here, or whether a more reasonable attitude is going to be pursued?

Mr. Hogan (Clare):

I would like to ask if this motion indicates a change of policy. We have at Rhynana and Ballygreen a scheme of employment under which the Postmaster-General was responsible for the erection of a wireless station there. Men were employed under his Department in doing heavy navvy work. It has to be remembered that it was the initial work in the construction of an air base in that area. The Postmaster-General employed men, and he paid them the scandalously low rate of 27/- per week. Now, we had another national scheme in operation in this country, in connection with which starvation rates of wages were paid. Does this change of office on the part of the Executive Council mean a departure from that standard? Was the Postmaster-General responsible for the rate of 27/-a week that was paid on that scheme, and is that a pointer to Deputy Hugo Flinn, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, who is in charge of the Board of Works, to continue the payment of a coolie rate of wages during the continuance of that job? It is known to the Government and to the Executive Council that the rate of wages paid by the Clare County Council is 35/- a week. It is also known that the rate of wages paid by farmers in that area is £2 per week, that is, wages with emoluments. I want to know whether this pointer by the Postmaster-General in paying a scandalously low rate of wages, the coolie rate of 27/-, in the erection of the wireless station at Ballygreen, is going to be continued as the policy of the Government in connection with that scheme?

I was surprised to hear the President inform the Leader of the Opposition that he had no reason to give for making the proposed changes. Personally, I may say that I welcome the changes proposed in the motion that has been moved by the President, because, in my opinion, it is unfair to hold one Minister responsible for the administration of two Departments such as the Department of Lands and the Department of Defence. I think that the Land Commission is a job big enough for the best man that the President can find in his Ministry or Party. I welcome the change for that reason. I hope and believe it will make responsible for the Department of Lands a man who will speed up the work of that Department. There is plenty of room for activity in that direction. I hope that Deputy Boland, who is named in the motion as the future Minister for Lands, will, if he is not already aware of the inactivity of certain sections of that Department, ginger up those sections and speed up the division of land. I do not think it fair of the President or the Executive Council or the Fianna Fáil Party to expect that Deputy Aiken would be able to do that very necessary work in addition to taking responsibility for the administration of the Department of Defence. For the reasons I have given, I welcome the proposed changes.

I was hopeful of hearing that the proposed changes had possibly something to do with the administration of the Land Commission, because my attention has been called to the fact that in the County Roscommon there has been an entirely new departure on the part of the Land Commission in this respect: that they are now issuing warrants for unpaid annuities that are less than six months in arrear and on the extended scale of costs agreed on by this House last year. That, I submit, is unprecedented in the history of the Land Commission, but it is now the general rule so far as the County Roscommon is concerned. I hope that my colleague, Deputy Boland, when he takes over control of the Department of Lands will see that that practice is not continued in his own constituency. I would also like to ask the President and the House whether they think it is really advisable that a Minister ought to be the director of elections of a political Party.

So much has been said to stimulate the new Minister for Lands that I do not think the occasion ought to be allowed to pass without something being said to stimulate the new Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. I hope he will realise that there is great need for some explosive energy in his Department at the present time.

Deputy Boland has been a very successful Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.

I am not denying that.

I just want to say that this motion does not indicate any change of policy, and that there has been, in fact, no political discrimination such as has been suggested. The Deputies who have spoken tried hard to meet the Chair in relating what they have said to this motion. I think, however, that the matters they have raised could be more appropriately discussed at another time. I was asked whether there were any reasons for this motion, and I said "no." I do not think it is necessary to give any special reasons, in view of the fact that, on a previous occasion, I indicated to the House that we were joining the two Ministries for special reasons. The reasons then given seemed sufficiently good to the House. At any rate, Deputies did not show any objection to the change of keeping two Ministries together. Everybody knows, of course, that each of these Ministries provides full work for any individual, and that it is only exceptional circumstances which would at all warrant the joining of them together. We have now arrived at a situation in which, I think, the present change can be made, and of bringing the position back to what should be the normal, namely that one Minister should be in charge of each of these important Departments of State.

I do not think, as I have said, that there is any need to give any special explanation. In any case, where it is simply a question of one Minister going from one Department to another, I do not think it well to establish the precedent of giving a detailed explanation as to why each particular change has been effected. It is for members of the House, if they do not like the change and if they want information, to ask for it; but in a case of this sort, of one Minister going from one Department to another. I do not think it well to establish a precedent by giving a detailed explanation of the reason for such changes. Members of the House can ask for any information they require, but at the moment I think it ought to be sufficient to say that for the better conduct of government these changes are thought desirable, and the motion is now before the House for that reason.

Motion put and agreed to.