Nomination of Members of Government: Motion of Approval.

I move:—

That the Dáil approves of the nomination by the Taoiseach of the following Deputies to be members of the Government:—

William Norton,

Richard Mulcahy,

Seán MacBride,

Joseph Blowick,

James Everett,

James M. Dillon,

Patrick McGilligan,

Seán MacEoin,

Thomas F. O'Higgins,

Daniel Morrissey,

Timothy Joseph Murphy,

Noel C. Browne.

It is not, I understand, usual to indicate the Departments to which these members of the Government, if approved, will be assigned but I think, in the special circumstances, it would be desirable that I should indicate to the Dáil the Departments to which I propose to assign these members of the Government respectively, if approved by the Dáil.

I intend to assign Deputy William Norton, if approved, to the Department of Social Welfare and also to nominate him to be the Tánaiste; Deputy General Richard Mulcahy to the Department of Education; Deputy Seán MacBride to the Department of External Affairs; Deputy Joseph Blowick to the Department of Lands; Deputy James Everett to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs; Deputy James M. Dillon to the Department of Agriculture; Deputy Patrick McGilligan to the Department of Finance; Deputy General Seán MacEoin to the Department of Justice; Deputy Dr. Thomas F. O'Higgins to the Department of Defence; Deputy Daniel Morrissey to the Department of Industry and Commerce; Deputy Timothy Joseph Murphy to the Department of Local Government, and Deputy Dr. Noel C. Browne to the Department of Health.

I think it is rather surprising that the Taoiseach did not take the opportunity given to him by this motion to inform the Dáil and the country on many matters upon which information is required. I am sure he is aware that many statements made during the election campaign by representatives of the various Parties forming the Government Coalition have aroused considerable anxiety in the country. It is desirable that that anxiety should be relieved, if it can be relieved, as quickly as possible. We are told there have been no bargains but it is, I think, not a secret that many discussions have taken place between the representatives of the various Coalition Parties in the past few days and, following these discussions, vague general statements were issued indicating the matters upon which agreement was reached. I am quite sure that the Taoiseach or the Deputies whom he is proposing to nominate as members of the Government cannot hope to keep secret any of the other matters that were discussed in those negotiations, if they have a bearing upon public policy. It is clearly desirable that the fullest possible information should be given as quickly as possible upon the matters concerning which anxiety exists, anxiety which can be relieved, if at all, only by a clear statement of the Government's intentions.

Perhaps I may help the Taoiseach or Deputy Mulcahy, whoever is the most authoritative spokesman of the proposed new Government, by asking some questions. We are told, for example, that this Government is not a coalition Government, that it is an inter-Party Government. I want to know, is it intended to convey a distinction? So far as the public are aware, the members of the Labour Party, the Clann na Poblachta Party, the Clann na Talmhan Party and the National Labour Party have joined with Fine Gael to form a coalition Government under a Fine Gael Taoiseach. Whether that Government is intended to act, as Governments have acted here in the past, with collective responsibility, is a matter about which some doubt has been created by the emphasis upon the term "inter-Party" rather than "coalition". Is it intended that this Government will have collective responsibility, that the members of it will each have responsibility in public and to the Dáil for every act of every member of it? That is the obligation, as I understand it, of the Constitution and it certainly has been the practice here in the past. It may be that this term "inter-Party" is intended to convey something different from a coalition. If so, that fact should be stated. Up to the present the term "inter-Party" has been used, apparently, merely for the purpose of avoiding the use of the word "coalition".

I do not know why those who have joined with Fine Gael to form a Government should object to being described as being in coalition with Fine Gael but, if they do so object, will they tell us why? If it is intended to convey that there is a difference between a coalition Government and an inter-Party Government, then, what precisely is the difference? It has been suggested that the use of the term "inter-Party" means that collective responsibility will not apply, that the Government will not meet as a team of Ministers to consider the matters that will inevitably come up for decision and to arrive at decisions in the normal way after discussion; that, instead, the members nominated from the different Parties will be merely representatives of their Parties and will be unable to give any decision at Government meetings until they have consulted their Parties. If that is intended to be the meaning to be attached to the term "inter-Party," that should be made clear because it suggests a departure of a major kind from our normal constitutional practice and the normal method of good government.

It may be that the term "inter-Party" is merely used as a means of deceiving people as to what exactly is taking place. I think that cannot be so because it has been given such prominence in the publicity statements issued to the Press and in the course of the discussion here this afternoon that it seems that the members of the proposed Government and the Deputies who support them attach some importance to it. What is that importance? Are the persons proposed as members of the Government becoming members of a Cabinet which will have collective responsibility? Will they be able to act upon their own judgment and after consultation with their Cabinet colleagues or will they be required by the arrangements that were arrived at in the secret discussions to report back to their Parties and get the approval of their Parties before intimating a decision to Cabinet meetings? That is one question which I think should be answered.

I do not know if Deputies opposite have adverted to the fact that considerable significance has been attached to the emphasis which they have placed upon the term "inter-Party". If they are not aware of it, then I am making them aware of it and I am asking them to explain precisely the manner in which it is proposed that this Government, when elected by the Dáil, will act.

There are a number of other matters upon which I think it is very desirable that a speedy declaration of the policy of the Government should be made. I will put the question of industrial development first because it is the activity with which I was personally most closely associated. This is, so far as we know up to the present, a Fine Gael Government with certain members of it drawn from other Parties in coalition with Fine Gael. The Fine Gael industrial policy in the past has left this country a legacy of ruined mills and derelict factories. There is perhaps a justifiable anxiety that history is going to repeat itself. Those who took the responsibility of putting a Fine Gael Government again into office, and a Fine Gael Deputy again into the position of Minister for Industry and Commerce, should assure us that they have got some undertakings in these secret negotiations that history is not going to repeat itself, in that regard, that the policy which Fine Gael applied when they were in office before is not going to be applied again and that we shall not have another record industrial decline which was not remedied until Fine Gael was removed from office in 1932.

This Government has taken over a country which has a strong and growing industrial organisation. It is, I think, desirable to put on record that we almost alone—I think there is one other country besides Ireland—have already achieved an expansion in the volume of industrial production greater than pre-war. There are many, very many thousands of workers in industrial employment who got that employment by reason of the industrial policy pursued by the Fianna Fáil Government, who want some assurance, and who should get some assurance, that the policy which gave them their jobs, and which brought into existence the industries in which they are employed, is going to be maintained. I know that some of them think that the mere fact that many of these new industries were established under Fianna Fáil auspices and were regarded as proof of the success of the Fianna Fáil policy, may engender hostility towards them in the minds of the Fine Gael members of the proposed new Government. I think that if that policy is not going to be followed, if there is to be no change in the general industrial position, it is desirable that a clear statement to that effect should be made soon. I should have thought that the Leader of the Government would have realised the necessity for such a statement and would have taken advantage of this particular motion to have made it to the Dáil.

There are at the present time a very large number of proposals for the establishment here of new industries on the files of the Department of Industry and Commerce. There are a number of new factories building at the present time and many new factories scheduled to begin this year. Because of doubt as to the policy of the Government that might result from the election, many of these plans are going slow. Naturally enough those who have taken the responsibility of promoting and financing them, have been disposed to mark time until the elections were over, until this meeting of the Dáil had taken place and the personnel and the policy of the Government were known. They will continue to go slow and mark time with their plans unless they are given through the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Taoiseach, or some authoritative spokesman of the Government a clear statement of policy that will encourage them to go ahead. They will require an assurance on the question of protection. It is, I admit, true that many industries do not require protection now. Probably in the circumstances that will exist for some years ahead, protection of the kind given before the war will not be necessary in many cases but no person will undertake to finance a substantial longterm industrial project, unless he has some assurance that, if international conditions change, and if the economic circumstances that existed before the war reappear, he will get the assistance of protection from the Government. It is on that matter that doubt exists and I am sure every member of the proposed Government and every Deputy in the benches opposite realises there is reason for these doubts having regard to the inglorious record of Fine Gael in the industrial field when they were previously in office.

The same remarks apply to agriculture. I was not merely Minister for Industry and Commerce but also Minister for Supplies during the war, and since the war came to an end, I have carried on the functions which were formerly those of the Minister for Supplies. One essential commodity concerning which I have had most anxiety during recent months was wheat. Everybody in this House knows that we had a very bad wheat harvest last year. The total yield of the wheat crop delivered to the flour mills was only half the yield of the previous year. The circumstances which reduced our yield affected the harvest in all countries so that we had very considerable difficulty in arranging for the importation of wheat in sufficient quantities to maintain the present bread ration. It is only in the present week that arrangements were concluded, or were brought almost to a conclusion, that satisfied me that the wheat ration was safe until the end of the cereal year. I use the word "cereal year," in the international sense, that is until the end of June. It will probably be safe after the end of June, assuming that the international wheat agreement which is now being negotiated, is successfully concluded and assuming that we ourselves grow the maximum acreage of wheat possible.

Having regard to the anti-wheat policy of Fine Gael and to the prejudiced opposition to wheat growing of the proposed Minister for Agriculture, I think the House should get some assurance that the necessary inducements to ensure the cultivation of the maximum acreage of wheat this year will be given. Unless we grow the maximum acreage of wheat—and that is a matter that has to be determined in the next few weeks—there is no possibility of abolishing the bread ration after next harvest. It might even be difficult to maintain the existing ration although the provisions of the international wheat agreement would appear not to be unfavourable to us from that point of view.

It appears obvious from present facts that we cannot hope to abolish bread rationing unless we ourselves produce in this country substantially more wheat than we produced last year. Our experience has been that it cannot be ensured without, not merely considerable price inducements but also some element of compulsion. We were always anxious to get rid of the element of compulsion but up to the present we were unable to effect production here of the quantity of wheat necessary to satisfy our own requirements, without it. If it can be secured without compulsion, well and good, but clearly there is a responsibility on the new Government to take all steps necessary to ensure that we shall get the maximum acreage of wheat grown, because on it depends the possibility of getting rid of bread rationing after the next harvest.

The same applies as regards sugar. Again we have to take into account the fact that the proposed new Minister for Agriculture was a strong opponent of the policy of growing sugar beet for manufacture into sugar in this country. I do not know if any assurances have been got from him by his proposed colleagues in the new Government that he will change his outlook. It is true that there is available in stock enough sugar to maintain the ration until the next sugar beet harvest. There is enough, and a little over, because it was necessary always to carry a certain working stock against possibilities of delay in the manufacture of sugar such as occurred in previous years. It is possible to buy sugar.

It is true that the world sugar situation has improved and it is now possible to buy sugar for dollars at a price which is comparable to our own or to buy it for sterling at a price higher than our own. It is, I think, desirable that the supply of sugar should be increased so that the ration can be either increased or rationing abolished altogether. Measures to that end can be taken quickly if the Government is prepared to make available the foreign exchange required in order to purchase sugar abroad. But there is no possibility of getting enough sugar to fill all our own requirements unless we produce the bulk of it ourselves; and that is dependent upon the policy the Government is going to follow in relation to this matter of growing sugar beet.

In the case of butter it will be in the memory of some Deputies here that when Fianna Fáil came into office our dairying industry was on the point of extinction and it took very substantial Government subsidies and other measures of a rather drastic kind to revive the dairying industry in the years before the war. During the war butter production declined for causes which are, I think, well known to responsible Deputies. I am glad to be able to report that in the month of January, 1948, the total production of butter was more than double the production in the month of January, 1947. If that improvement in production can be maintained it should be possible at an early date to increase the present six-ounce ration. Deputies may scoff at the present butter ration but let them not forget that it is the largest in Europe. So far as most of our rations are concerned they are larger than in any other country in Europe. If the new Government can maintain as good a record as that during whatever period they are in office they will have something to boast about when they relinquish it.

What I have said about the anxiety in the minds of the public arising out of the past records of some members of the proposed new Government and the recent statements made by some new members applies particularly in the realm of finance. We have had a number of crazy and hazy ideas voiced on public platforms by people who pose as experts in public finance. There is no sphere in which reaction can be quicker than in the sphere of finance where hazy and crazy financial ideas are concerned. Very real damage can be done to this country in the immediate future if the idea gets abroad that this new Government is committed through any secret understanding to apply any of the ideas advocated by some of the spokesmen of the Coalition Parties during the election campaign. Clearly it is desirable that anxiety on that score should be removed—if it can be removed—by a clear and unequivocal statement from the proposed new Government as soon as possible.

The fact that Deputy Mulcahy is to be Minister for Education is at least some assurance that a policy hostile to the revival of Irish in the schools, as has been expressed by some of his new colleagues, is not likely to be the policy of the Government of which he is now a member. I hope, however, that he will give a clear indication as to that fact at the earliest possible moment because there are, as he knows, in his own Party members who are——

Cé an saghas Gaedhilge atá ag an Teachta?

That is not the point. Deputy Mulcahy will be honest enough to admit that there are many people who are not as fluent in Irish as he is but who are nevertheless sincere in their desire to promote the revival of Irish through the schools; and I think there are many people who are, perhaps, as fluent as he is who are not. The Deputy's taunt really goes wide of the issue. He knows that there are in his Party people who are hostile to the idea of reviving the Irish language. He knows that his Party was supported in the election by newspapers which are hostile to the revival of the Irish language. He knows that the Labour Party is indifferent and Clann na Poblachta hostile to the revival of Irish through the schools. It is obviously desirable that the policy of the Government in this respect, if the Government has a policy, should be made known as soon as possible.

Does the Deputy know that the election is over?

I am fully aware that the election is over and I am fully aware that responsibility now rests upon the new Taoiseach and upon the members of the Government he is proposing to appoint. They are now the cock-shots in this Dáil. They have taken not merely office but responsibilities and they are going to be held to their responsibilities as far as it is in our power so to do.

There are a number of Deputies who were elected because of their ability to parade before the public defects in our economic organisation and social system, but who gave very little indication of any ability on their part to plan constructively in order to remedy those defects. They will not be able to get away with it now. Every single Deputy opposite, responsible and irresponsible, is going to be held to account for what this Government does or does not do.

We will have another election.

The Deputies opposite are perhaps forgetful of the fact that they have now acquired the dignity of membership of a Government. They are still inclined to behave like a lot of paid hecklers at a public meeting. You must remember that you have now acquired not only dignified offices but also responsibilities. On these questions you are accountable to the Dáil in the first instance and to the public in the second instance. You will not escape these questions which are being asked here by either interruptions or laughter. These questions will continue to be asked until they are answered.

There are other matters of supply concerning which I would like to make some comment. So far as tea is concerned there is at the present time enough tea in the country to abolish rationing. The problem there is a financial one. Tea, as the Deputies know, is heavily subsidised. To abolish rationing would mean an additional Government subsidy of close on £1,500,000. The tea is there. So far as I have had responsibility for ensuring supplies in this country I can say now that there is enough tea in the country to abolish rationing, or to remove many of the restrictions upon the use of tea, or to increase the present ounce-and-ahalf ration to two ounces. Any step taken, however, to release more tea at the present price is going to involve a very heavy additional subsidy and that is a problem for a Government which has committed itself to a reduction in taxation of £10,000,000.

The same is not true so far as petroleum products are concerned. In the sphere of petroleum products new difficulties are now arising which may be of serious import to us in the course of the year. Some restrictions have been imposed on the shipment of petroleum products from the United States of America. Apart from exchange difficulties, which were limiting purchases in that quarter of the world, a scarcity has developed everywhere and my successor as Minister for Industry and Commerce will need to give the problem very urgent attention.

There are a number of other problems which I am leaving to him. Most of them are problems resulting from the fact that efforts to accumulate stocks have been rather more successful than otherwise. In particular I want to refer to fuel. We have on hands a very large stock of American coal. At the present rate of disbursement there will still be large stocks on hands next winter. There is about a ten years' supply of firewood at the present rate of usage. In that regard a particularly acute problem is now coming to a head. There are a large number of people engaged in this business of felling and hauling firewood. Many are Army officers and soldiers who spent their gratuities on the purchase of lorries. That business must stop if for no other reason than the physical difficulty of finding further storage space for timber. All the storage space rented by Fuel Importers, Limited, is full. If this hauling of firewood must cease then these men have no other haulage business in which they can legitimately engage. It may be that a suggestion will be put forward to amend the Transport Act so as to give them the right to engage in public haulage of other kinds.

If that is done a much more serious problem will arise in relation to our railways. I saw statements made by some of the Coalition Deputies during the election to the effect that the railways were making vast profits for their private shareholders. The railway system of Córas Iompair Éireann last year lost £1,000,000. If there is any substantial expansion in the number of lorries engaged in the road haulage of merchandise the future of the railway system will be in very grave jeopardy. There is, therefore, no easy solution of the problem to which I have referred.

A similar situation exists in relation to turf. It is true that turf is still rationed, but it is rationed solely because of the subsidy arrangement. The price of turf in the eastern part of the country is subsidised. The justification for the maintenance of the subsidy was that turf was rationed in that area. In the rest of the country turf was unsubsidised and unrationed. Now there are ample supplies of turf and rationing could be abolished, subject to the adjustment of the price or the subsidy arrangement relating to price. There is, however, in the dumps of Fuel Importers Limited enough turf at the present rate of distribution to last until the winter of 1949.

I think that my successor will be very relieved to know that he has no immediate fuel supply difficulties to encounter. But he will have problems to meet in relation to stocks which have been accumulated and which constitute a safeguard for the people of the country. Perhaps these turf dumps and timber fuel dumps may be a useful reserve to have in the event of some interruption in coal supplies from Great Britain such as might follow if there was a strike in the British mines. But it is necessary to remember that they will not keep indefinitely. Turf deteriorates, and timber deteriorates even more rapidly than turf, and, clearly, the stocks must be disposed of before they become useless.

I note in the rather vague and generalised statement issued on behalf of the coalitionist Parties that they are proposing to embark on a housing drive, upon arterial drainage, and upon the building of hospitals and sanatoria. I want to tell them that, so far as these activities are concerned, the only thing they have to do is to stand aside and let the work go on. All the necessary legislation has been passed, all the plans have been made and work is in progress. They will be able to show at the end of whatever period they are in office considerable development in the housing programme, in the construction of hospitals and sanatoria and in arterial drainage if they merely do not interfere with the work in progress. They will certainly need no new legislation or no new financial arrangements to ensure that activities in these fields will proceed to the maximum extent to which the resources of the nation permit.

There are 20,000 families looking for houses in Dublin.

There are 80,000 families in the State living in houses which are unfit for human habitation.

Have the Government to go slow?

They are to stand aside?

On the contrary. I say that all the plans have been made and all the legislation has been passed to permit of the production of houses at the maximum rate of which the building industry is capable. There is a limiting factor which might engage the attention of the Government. Perhaps this Government will be able to do something more about it than we were. The limiting factor is skilled labour and the limitation on the supply of skilled labour is very largely due to the restrictive apprenticeship rules operated by the craft unions. In a number of these trades the rate of admission of apprentices to the crafts is not sufficient to replace the existing number of craftsmen, assuming a normal life of 20 or 25 years for skilled craftsmen.

They are to stand aside and let the work go on?

On the contrary. I was speaking of dwellinghouses. At present work is proceeding at the maximum rate which the building industry is capable of undertaking. If there is expansion in the output, it will only be because of expansion in the resources of the building industry and, particularly, its resources of skilled workers. There are, of course, some supply difficulties left. Cement was a particular problem and is still a problem. In our time we succeeded in establishing here two cement factories. These factories were designed with a capacity considerably in excess of the estimated requirements of the country in regard to cement. In fact, we had over a number of years an export trade in cement. Now, however, the demand for cement has expanded to a stage at which the total capacity of the factories is inadequate to meet it. Clearly, their capacity must be increased. There is little prospect of importing cement from abroad. If cement could be got, it would be very much dearer than the home-produced cement. But cement is a scarce commodity throughout the world and the only certainty of an increased supply will follow upon expansion of our own production.

The cement company operates now under a licence given under the Cement Act. I think the company is quite willing to have that Act repealed and to operate any other industry without special facilities. I think my successor will be able to induce the company to expand the capacity of its plant, or, alternatively, to make arrangements with somebody else to establish additional factories. Clearly, there will be a restriction on the quantity of cement available for some time because, with the best will in the world, it will take a number of months, perhaps more than a year, to build a new factory and to get it into production.

What I have said about housing applies also to the building of hospitals and sanatoria. Again, all the legislation has been prepared, the finances have been arranged, the plans have been made and the work is on, and there is little to be done by any Minister in that regard except to let that work proceed. That is true also of arterial drainage. The Brosna drainage scheme is ready to be begun. Work is, I think, about to start in the near future. The plans for five other catchment areas have been made. The necessary financial arrangements for the implementation of some of these plans have yet to be completed, but no doubt a Government that can reduce taxation by £10,000,000 in one year will have little difficulty in providing the funds.

I notice also that part of the programme of the Government is the inauguration of a social insurance scheme. Let me say again that a great deal of work has been done in the preparation of such a scheme and the scheme is in fact ready for drafting. I do not suggest that the Government will necessarily adopt the scheme which the Fianna Fáil Government prepared, but, in so far as the preparation of the scheme involved not merely decisions as to the amount to be paid in benefits and the amount to be collected in contributions, but also the administrative arrangements to ensure the most effective execution of the scheme, all that work is done and there should be no reason whatever why a comprehensive social insurance scheme should not be produced in the form of a Bill to the Dáil before the summer. Certainly, if there had not been a change of Government, it would have been produced before the summer.

There are a number of other matters to which I should like to refer, but other opportunities will offer. These are the matters upon which I think it is desirable that there should be a concise statement of the policy of the Government as soon as that policy has been determined. I am assuming that these discussions or negotiations or bargainings that went on during the past week related to these important matters and not to the trivial question of who would be Minister for this or who would be Minister for that. If they did deal with these matters, then the result of these discussions or bargainings should be made known. If, in fact, they were purely concerned with personalities and the allocation of posts in the Government to the different Parties, then the sooner the Government consider these major issues of policy the better, because it is desirable that a clear statement should be made.

One matter upon which all the Parties in the coalition are agreed is that the duties imposed under the Emergency Budget for the purpose of financing food subsidies should be repealed. I hope it is the intention to repeal them straight away. I think it would be quite unfair to the public if they delayed repealing the duties until later in the year. It may be argued that any financial changes of that kind should be effected at the time of the annual Budget. But they were not imposed at the time of the annual Budget and, clearly, the Parties who have formed the coalition have committed themselves to the immediate repeal of the duties. I trust, therefore, that arrangements will be made to have the necessary resolutions submitted to the Dáil at its next meeting.

That is what all the members on the benches opposite have undertaken to do. They must not fall down on that first and main undertaking which they gave and the only one upon which they are apparently all agreed. They have a financial problem if they do. I presume the desire will be to maintain the food subsidies. These subsidies produced a 3 per cent. reduction in the cost of living in the interval between August and November.

I note that some Deputies opposite think it is possible to reduce the cost of living by 30 per cent. I shall be very glad to see proposals of that kind. I hope the Parties opposite will be able to implement that undertaking. Personally, I shall be more than pleased if they reduce the cost of living by 10 per cent. I think it would be a complete impossibility for the Government to take any action that would effect a 30 per cent. reduction in the cost of living in this year. The Deputies opposite say it can be done and, presumably, they will try to do it. It is difficult to see how they are to do it if they are going to withdraw the food subsidies financed under the Emergency Budget. If they are not going to withdraw the food subsidies, the cancellation of these taxes which they have undertaken must, presumably, be followed by the imposition of some other taxes if the Government is to finance the subsidies out of revenue. I am assuming that a financial expert such as Deputy McGilligan is represented to be would not adopt, even if his colleagues would allow it, the reckless course of meeting current expenses by borrowing.

There has been a change of Government, and the Government must expect to be criticised. I think I can undertake that the criticism we will give will be constructive criticism. We have the advantage of having been in office for a long number of years and we know a great deal of the working of Government Departments. We know a great deal about the economic and social conditions of the country, and the criticism we will give of the Government's acts or proposals will be informed criticism. Our criticisms will all be designed to improve these proposals, if they are capable of improvement.

I am assuming that responsibility of office will knock some of the harebrained ideas, which were circulating in the course of the election, on the head. If that is not so, we will only have to expose the fallacies on which they are based, or their impracticability, if they are submitted for the serious consideration of the Dáil.

The electorate have spoken and have decided the election in a form which made this change of Government possible. It is true the Fianna Fáil Party got more Deputies elected than all the other organised Parties added together, but Deputies opposite have chosen to interpret the result as giving them authority to form a Government and they have done so. We are not complaining; I am making no complaint about it; that is the normal working of the democratic system, and we who took a primary part in enacting the Constitution under which we work are not going to complain in the least if that Constitution is used to the detriment of our Party.

I am assuming that every Deputy— every Independent Deputy and every member of the smaller Parties that have joined Fine Gael in this coalition —did what he thinks is right. We will assume that, at any rate, until the contrary is shown. If those Deputies have any explanations or excuses to give, they do not have to give them to us here. Any excuses or explanations they may have to give can be given elsewhere. We do not want to hear them. Let them not waste the time of the House by expressing them here.

I heard one Deputy saying that the Fianna Fáil Government was handing over a country which is bankrupt. That is not true. You are getting a country sound in every way—sound nationally, economically and financially. It is a country with a high international status and with good relations with other countries. There is no immediate problem which the Government has to deal with arising out of our national position. We can claim we have left this country a great deal better than we found it. Our industries have been expanded; 100,000 more people are employed in industry. Our agriculture has experienced difficult times during the war, but the fact that rural constituencies gave the Fianna Fáil Party an overwhelming majority is proof that the farmers are satisfied with our agricultural policy. Our financial position is very strong, our credit is very high and it would be a very bad day's work for the country if the adoption of any of those hair-brained schemes that were advocated during the election should undermine that strong credit position.

We are leaving you this country in good shape. There are problems to be faced. Some will be difficult of solution and some will tax the ingenuity and the ability of the Government to the limit; but intrinsically the country is all right. That is the way you are getting it. Make sure that you hand it back that way.

Notwithstanding the fact that some portions of Deputy Lemass's speech were somewhat provocative, I do not propose to take up any of the challenges that he has thrown out here to-night. If he wants these challenges to be taken up, opportunities will offer. He may rest assured that these challenges will be taken up and anything that requires to be answered will be answered effectively.

This Government was formed for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to do something for the good of the country. I welcome Deputy Lemass's offer of constructive criticism. In the few words I uttered this afternoon, after I had been nominated as Taoiseach, I asked for the patriotic cooperation of Deputies on the opposite benches. I think the time is so difficult, and the circumstances of the country are so serious, that we all should, for a while at least, cease to play politics. We have just had a general election in which we told each other exactly what we thought about our own policies and what we thought of each other.

It may be that Deputy Lemass is right, that this country is in good shape. We will not know that until we get the facts. Deputy Lemass asked why did I not make a statement of policy here to-night. I agree with him that it is urgently necessary that this Government should, at the earliest possible moment, make a statement of its policy. It will do so. We have been 15 years in Opposition. The Party opposite has been 15 years in power. Until we know the facts—until we get them from an examination of Departmental records—we will not know the problems we have to face, or the methods that will have to be adopted.

A number of Parties in this country, after the General Election, came together, having put before the electors their varying and various policies and ideas. The various Parties who have formed this Government have sought to find, and have found, numbers of points on which they can completely agree. This Government has been formed on the basis of full agreement on all those points. Any points on which we have not agreed have been left in abeyance.

That has been made perfectly clear and, if Deputy Lemass thinks that there is any anxiety to be allayed in this country, the fact that we are here, having formed a Government, with Fine Gael, Labour, Clann na Talmhan, Clann na Poblachta, the National Labour Party and the Independents, and that in that group, with varying degrees of policy and outlook, we have been able to find such a measure of agreement as astonished us on fundamental points of policy, is something that can allay the fears of the country about which Deputy Lemass is so much concerned.

What are they?

The Deputy will hear them in due course. I do not want to play politics here. I am not in this Government for political purposes. I am not here to get any advantage out of political office. The ideal that I have placed before me here, the only reason why I consented to act, is because there is a group of patrietic Irishmen, working on democratic lines, agreeing to do what they believe is necessary to be done, and what was not done by the last Government.

I do not care whether Deputy Lemass calls this a coalition, an inter-Party Government, or anything else. He can call it what he likes. A group of Parties has come together and found agreement. That is an experiment, if you like. It shows this country, at all events, what Fianna Fáil tried to delude the country about, that it was not possible to form a Government from members of Parties with different policies and different ideas. We have at least shown this country that there can be some other Government instead of Fianna Fáil and that in itself is an achievement.

We are prepared to stand the light of every searching criticism that all the Deputies opposite can bring to bear on our actions, on our policy and on the result of our actions. We are seeking for that criticism, and we do not intend in any way to try to evade it. We have the idea of a group Government, if you like, an inter-Party Government if you like, but at the basis of all that is this, that there has been found amongst all those Parties common agreement and a common policy. We propose to do the best we can to implement that.

Deputy Lemass had a sneer, of course, at the industrial policy of Fine Gael. I am not standing here to defend Fine Gael, but I defended Fine Gael for 15 years. Deputy Lemass said that the Fine Gael Party was dead. It is very much alive. I do not want to enter into those controversial matters nor do I want to enter into matters that were the subject of discussion on the Government's industrial policy, the effects of that industrial policy, its cost to the poor people and the new rich which they had created. The people will learn of our industrial policy. It is a policy on which we are in complete agreement in this Government. I hope that the result of that policy will be to give decent conditions to the worker, decent wages to every worker and a fair return to those people who put their capital into Irish industry. No decent Irish industrialist has anything to fear from this present Government.

Deputy Lemass wanted to know what was the policy of the Minister for Agriculture with regard to wheat, beet and the rest. He will hear that in due course. It will be the policy of the Government. Deputy Lemass wanted to know were we going to be a group Government or a Coalition Government. We are not evading our constitutional responsibilities. Deputy Lemass doubtless is aware that Article 28 of the Constitution makes it imperative for every Government to be such a Government as must meet and act with collective authority. No Government can be formed within the Constitution, or act within the Constitution, unless it meets and acts with collective authority. This Government will do that. It is an Irish democratic Government, composed of men whose sole object is not to get anything out of Party politics, or office or profit or power, but who are here to do what they can for the Irish people, acting within the Constitutional limits and in the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

As regards our agricultural policy, the policy that we propose to put into operation when circumstances permit, will be the policy of our late colleague, James Hughes. That is our ideal. It is on that that our agricultural policy is framed. Everyone knows what that is. Deputies can criticise it if they like. They can bring the most searching constructive criticism to bear on it, or, if they like, the most destructive criticism; but one of the fundamental principles on which this Government is formed is that there can be no prosperity for this country, no reduction in the cost of living and no such thing as the maintenance of a proper standard of life in this country unless agricultural production is stepped up, and stepped up immediately.

Notwithstanding the boast made by Deputy Lemass, and notwithstanding all that, he said, had been done, the agricultural industry has gone nearly into decay. We propose to bring it out of that, to bring it back where Paddy Hogan had it when a change of Government took place. At all events, that is the basis of our agricultural policy. If there are any anxieties about that, then they can be allayed by what I have said.

I do not propose to go through any of the other points that were made. I welcome the information that was given by Deputy Lemass from his knowledge of one Department over a period of 15 years, as well as the outline he gave of the problems with regard to supplies, petrol and the existing conditions with regard to wheat and so forth. We could get all that information tomorrow, but still we are glad that he gave it to us. When we know the facts, then we will know the problems that we will have to meet. Every member of the House may be assured, and the country may be assured, that we will bend our energies to do what is right and proper to solve those problems.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 65.

  • Beirne, John.
  • Belton, John.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Joseph P.
  • Browne, Noel C.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Byrne, Alfred Patrick.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Collins, Seán.
  • Commons, Bernard.
  • Connolly, Roderick J.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Halliden, Patrick J.
  • Hickey, James.
  • Hogan, Patrick.
  • Hughes, Joseph.
  • Keane, Seán.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kinane, Patrick.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, James.
  • Lehane, Con.
  • Lehane, Patrick D.
  • McAuliffe, Patrick.
  • MacBride, Seán.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • McQuillan, John.
  • Madden, David J.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Cowan, Peadar.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Davin, William.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Dunne, Seán.
  • Esmonde, Sir John I
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Timothy J.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Gorman, Patrick J.
  • O'Higgins, Michael J.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F. (Jun.).
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Martin.
  • Palmer, Patrick W.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Redmond, Bridget M.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Reynolds, Mary.
  • Roddy, Joseph.
  • Rooney, Eamonn.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Spring, Daniel.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Timonev, John J.
  • Tully, John.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Carter, Thomas.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Crowley, Honor Mary.
  • Davern, Michael J.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Famon.
  • De Valera, Vivion.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Friel, John.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, James.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lahiffe, Robert.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Lydon, Michael F.
  • Lynch, John.
  • McCann, John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • McGrath, Patrick.
  • Maguire, Patrick J.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Mary B.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheehan, Michael.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Travnor, Oscar.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Walsh, Thomas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Doyle and Keyes; Níl: Deputies Kissane and Kennedy.
Question put and declared carried.
The Dáil adjourned at 8.25 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 25th February, 1948.