I should like, first of all, to express what I think must be the satisfaction of the majority of the members of this House that the Labour Party and the Clann na Talmhan Party are represented in the Government which has just been formed. Deputy de Valera indicated that in his view it was not in the interests of the country that the Government should consist of representatives of different Parties. I, and I think this is the view of the majority of the people, regard the presence of the Labour Party and the Clann na Talmhan Party in Government as most desirable.
Likewise, I must say a word of appreciation at the fact that the Taoiseach has nominated Deputy Norton, the leader of the Labour Party, as Minister for Industry and Commerce. I think that decision will be welcomed by the country generally, both by the workers and by the heads of industry.
The new Government will be faced with many problems and it would, of course, be quite wrong to-night to attempt to discuss matters of policy but there are one or two matters which might be mentioned, not because I have any doubt as to the attitude new Ministers will adopt but because of the way in which Government business has been conducted in the course of the last three years. Because of the way in which business has been conducted, it is necessary to try to get things back now to a normal level.
One of the difficulties that faced most members on the Opposition side of the House during the last three years was the trouble they had in being able to obtain information and the lack of courtesy on the part of Ministers. That seemed to have become a habit with the Government which has just vacated office and there is always a danger that when a habit is created by a Government over a period of time it may be adopted by subsequent Governments. I would like to express the hope that in that respect the new Government will strike out on its own and adopt a different attitude towards Deputies who put questions to the respective Ministers, and that they will deal with the members of the different Parties in an atmosphere of courtesy, an atmosphere that has certainly been lacking in the course of the last three years.
Listening to the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy de Valera, explaining in some detail the marvellous condition of the country and the tremendous progress the country has made in the course of the last three years under his Administration, I must say that I was driven to ask myself how it came about that the people decided by an overwhelming majority to put out Fianna Fáil. If the picture which he painted was a true picture it seems to me the people were extremely foolish in putting out the Fianna Fáil Party in the election which has just taken place. I do not think that the people are fools and I think we may, therefore, take it that the picture does not represent the facts or the effect which Government policy has had on the people.
I am rather worried by the attitude adopted by Deputy de Valera in addressing the House to-night. His speech may be taken as an indication of the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party during the lifetime of the new Government. It is quite clear from his speech that the one aim of the Fianna Fáil Party will be to try to drive a wedge between the Labour Party and the other Parties in the Government. He set about that very deliberately and, if I may say so, very ably, or—shall I say?—very cunningly. He, first of all, tried to engender a feeling of apprehension on the part of business interests because of the fact that Deputy Norton is to be Minister for Industry and Commerce. In his usual able manner, he tried to relate that to an anecdote: he recalled that he was passing by the walls of Kilmainham Jail and that brought to his mind the fact that Deputy Norton had expressed certain views in regard to profiteers. Having sown those seeds of distrust, he then decided to turn to another Department, to the Department of Justice, but Deputy de Valera had, apparently, not remembered who the Minister for Justice was, so, before uttering a few words of poison, he leant to the former Tánaiste and asked him who the Minister for Justice was. That will not appear on the records of this House, but that is what happened, and I am sure that any Deputy sitting on this side noticed it. Having learned that the new Minister for Justice was Deputy Everett, of the Labour Party, Deputy de Valera then proceeded to suggest that the Department of Justice is always the Department for which the Communists make. In fact, he did not say it in so many words, but that was the clear innuendo behind what he said, and that is the suspicion which he sought to create in the mind of the public to-night.
I think it is well that the House and the public should realise what the new Government is going to be faced with by the Opposition, and should realise it at this stage—that the one aim of the Opposition is to try to drive a wedge between the Labour Party and other Parties in the Government. Apparently they will not hesitate to stoop to any methods or any weapons for that purpose, even to the extent that we saw to-night of suggesting that the appointment of Deputy Everett as Minister for Justice is a step towards the Communist control of this country. Anybody who knows Deputy Everett, and knows the Labour Party, will realise how perfectly ludicrous and unfounded that suggestion is. I think, however, it is well to realise that at an early stage.
Deputy de Valera then dealt with the proposals that I have made in regard to the formation of a national Government. As I understand it, the keynote of his remarks was that there is no necessity for a national Government, that we are all united and that we are all a happy family party working together here. Does anybody in this House believe that? Does anybody who has sat in this House in the course of the last ten years believe that there is any unity in this House? Does anyone in this House believe that the embittered Party warfare which rages from one side of the House to the other is of the slightest assistance to the country? I do not think so. I do not think that Deputy de Valera believes that himself.
We heard all the usual hackneyed arguments against a nationally representative Government composed of all Parties in the House or an inter-Party Government. We are told that, if there was a Government representative of all the different Parties in the House, there would be no Opposition. Of course, that is ridiculous. Deputy de Valera knows that there are countries which have nationally representative Governments and in which there is an Opposition. The Opposition consists of the largest Party in the minority. Deputy de Valera knows quite well that if, in present circumstances, a nationally representative Government was formed in this country, it is the Fianna Fáil Party that would lead the Opposition in this House.
He also made the usual type of references about continental countries which had Coalition Governments or national Governments. References are always made to certain continental countries that have this type of Government. We must consider that the best-governed countries in Europe are, in fact, countries that have either a nationally representative Government or an inter-Party Government. It is very easy always to point the finger to one of these countries which, for reasons completely unconnected with the concept of representative government, have an unstable Government, and so may often mislead people who may not know sufficient about the conditions.
Deputy de Valera said that there would be a stifling of views in an all-Party Government. I do not see why there should be a stifling of views here any more than, say, in Switzerland. I take it that the Opposition here would carry out its functions as effectively as it does in any other country.
Let us examine what in fact happens in the type of one Party Government to which Fianna Fáil is so wedded at the moment. It is not a majority of this House that would decide policy in a one Party Government; it is the majority decision of the people who meet in a back room of Leinster House in that Party. Very often the result you may have is that a decision is reached which is supported by, possibly, at most, 40 members of this House because they happen to constitute a majority in that Party at that particular Party meeting. Accordingly, you have the position where a minority of the members of this House is able, through the application of the Party system, to determine the policy of the House as a whole. That, surely, is unsatisfactory.
References were made to the fact that every Party desires to have a majority. Of course, every Party desires to have a majority, and, of course, every Party will put up as many candidates as it can. There is nothing wrong in that. We put up as many candidates as we could in 1948 in order to secure the maximum degree of support that we could. The greater the measure of support which a Party is able to get, the more it is able to carry its own views through in any nationally representative Government. There is nothing in conflict between the idea of putting up a large number of candidates and the concept of a nationally representative Government. It is up to every Party to get the maximum degree of representation it can in the Government and to get as much of its policy implemented as possible.
For the very opposite reasons to those advanced by Deputy de Valera in opposing the formation of the Government, I support the formation of this Government, and I welcome the advent of a second inter-Party Government in which Labour, Fine Gael, and the Clann na Talmhan Parties are represented. I think it is the fact that you have these different Parties represented in the Government which gives the new Government its strength and which will enable it to do good for the country.