Nomination of Member to be Member of Government.

I move:

That Dáil Éireann approve the nomination by the Taoiseach of Deputy Seán Flanagan for appointment by the President to be a member of the Government.

I am asking the Dáil to agree to the nomination of Deputy Seán Flanagan, at present Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Following on the nomination of Deputy Seán Flanagan as a Member of the Government, it is my intention to allocate to him in due course responsibility for the Department of Health. The other changes intended in the allocation of Departmental responsibility amongst Ministers following the coming into operation of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill are: Deputy P.J. Hillery will be Minister for Labour; Deputy George Colley will be Minister for Industry and Commerce and Deputy Donogh O'Malley will be Minister for Education.

This motion requesting the Dáil to approve the nomination by the Taoiseach of Deputy Seán Flanagan is one which requires a little more explanation than that given by the Taoiseach. So far as the motion to appoint Deputy Seán Flanagan as a Member of the Government is concerned, we do not object personally to that proposal, that is, as an individual. We do, however, object to the decision to increase the number of Ministers.

It has often seemed to me that it was somewhat difficult to understand, with the obvious lack of talent amongst the Fianna Fáil Party and particularly amongst the Ministers, that Deputy Seán Flanagan was not promoted earlier and I would like personally to wish him well as a Member of the Government. We regard him as a person entitled as an individual to the promotion which he has now got.

However, it is, I think, significant that three Ministers have been moved after little more than a year in their Departments. This is quite a considerable reshuffle for changes which were regarded last week, when the Taoiseach moved the establishment of the new Department, as inconsequential or, certainly, only those changes which were warranted by the establishment of the new Department of Labour.

It is, I think, worthy of comment that the Minister for Health is being moved from the Department of Health where he has promised everything to everybody and given nothing to anybody because the Government have no money to do it. It is equally significant that Deputy Colley is being removed from the Department of Education after little more than a year in that Department, with his expressed views in favour of the replacement of the English language by Irish, and this can well be regarded as the first move by Fianna Fáil to an acceptance of the Fine Gael policy.

It was generally foreshadowed that Deputy Hillery would move to the new Department of Labour. It is common knowledge in the country, if the fact has not yet penetrated to the Taoiseach, that most Ministers in this Government are passengers and, what is worse, they are not even fare-paying. One obvious solution of the present problems which affect the Government would be to retire them—it would be in the interests of the country—before they inflict further harm on it and possibly before they cause further embarrassment to their colleagues. It is well known that one Minister has expressed the view in regard to a colleague that the Fianna Fáil Party is a great Party that it is able to carry him. I shall save both of them the embarrassment of mentioning their names.

The fact is that this extra Minister now means that we have the maximum number permitted under the Constitution. It is a needless and unwarranted expense, an expense at a time when every other section of the community have to bear increased burdens, at a time when money is not available for worthwhile projects and when, according to the expressed views of the outgoing Minister for Health, he would like to do a lot of things but had no money to do them. A great many schools are needed but the outgoing Minister for Education had not the money to build them. Every local authority is finding it not merely difficult but virtually impossible to get money to build houses and Small Dwelling Acts loan applicants cannot get loans. In most local authorities, the money available will only pay for the applications that were in up to last December. In the circumstances, there is no justification for providing jobs for Fianna Fáil Deputies at the public expense. We suggest there is an obvious way in which this extra increase could be avoided, that is, by amalgamating existing Departments. I expressed the view last week that it is no function of Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries to act as Fianna Fail organisers as they attempted to do during the recent election at the public expense. State cars were bringing Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries all over the country—as they were entitled to do—but it was in fact on election business, whatever ostensible reason might have been given to the contrary.

We believe there is no justification for the present increase in expenditure when everyone else has to bear increased burdens and increased taxes, when the cost of living is rising and when so many sections, particularly those in need of housing, are being obliged to go without or even, in the best cases, to postpone their prospects of getting the accommodation they need. Nobody suggests that the salary of a Minister or even the total cost of a new Department would provide all the services or all the requirements of the country but what is wrong is the irresponsible mentality behind this, the irresponsible attitude of the Government who preach restraint and moderation, who have no money to give the services that are required or provide the work which is necessary and at the same time, refuse to practise what they themselves preach. That is where there is a lack of leadership and a question of the sincerity of the attitude adopted.

One wonders—and there will be speculation for a considerable time— about the removal of the present Minister for Health and of the present Minister for Education. These are two changes which in present circumstances cannot be regarded as consequential and which are more than is necessary on the establishment of the new Ministry of Labour and more than is necessary on the proposed appointment of Deputy Flanagan as an additional member of the Government. We believe that this situation is one in which the Government suggest that they have not sufficient funds for a variety of worthwhile projects, in which income increases are limited to a ceiling fixed by the Government, but in which so far as Government expenditure on jobs for Fianna Fáil Deputies is concerned, there is no limit, except that imposed by the Constitution which has now been reached by Fianna Fáil and which, by implication, was criticised in the remarks of the Taoiseach when he attempted to refute the facts which were produced here and which show that for the size of the country, for the population, for the gross national product and by whatever test is applied, even on area, we have more Ministers and possibly the most expensive Government in Europe.

There is so much sameness about the different debates that have taken place here in the past three or four months that I do not propose to speak at any length. As regards the competency of the Government, that can be debated over the next two days. I should like to ask the Taoiseach whether or not it is proposed to appoint a Parliamentary Secretary in place of Deputy Flanagan who is now nominated to be Minister for Health.

I approach the nomination and appointment of these Members of the House in a slightly different way from that of Deputy Cosgrave. I wonder if there is any sinister significance in the transfer of what I regard as two pretty good Ministers, Deputy O'Malley and Deputy Colley. Does the Taoiseach or the Government realise the importance there is in the fields of education and health at present? I think if votes were won or lost in the last two general elections, it was on the policies of the various Parties on health, in particular, and I suppose to a similar extent on education. I wonder if the Taoiseach is beginning to get a little panicky. Things are not going too well for the Government, not to exaggerate too much, and we have had quite a number of gimmicks and announcements that were frothy but meant nothing. I suppose, with all due respect to the Press, that one of the biggest items in tomorrow's newspapers will be these changes and photographs of the new Ministers, Deputy Flanagan and his colleagues in the Cabinet. That is one of the diversionary gimmicks, in my view, the Taoiseach has had to resort to in recent times.

I am particularly sorry for Deputy O'Malley and, on the other hand, I am inclined to ask myself whether or not he asked to be relieved of the Ministry of Health because what Deputy Cosgrave has said is quite true: he has promised quite an amount. We in the Labour Party have taken him in good faith. We were disappointed when he said his White Paper proposals, with much of which we agree, would not be implemented until 1967. He has said other extravagant things and has been quite liberal in the way he has acceded to various requests by workers in the field of health. I think he should be given an opportunity to implement these promises he has made so frequently since he was appointed Minister for Health in the spring of 1965.

Or would it be that the Taoiseach and the Government contemplate a change in the health laws? We in the Labour Party believe the White Paper containing the health proposals of the Government to be an improvement on the present system. They do not go far enough as far as we are concerned because we wanted to provide a health service that would be applied to all the population on a certain basis. The Minister for Health was not prepared to go that far. He was obviously embarrassed, particularly after he had made his pronouncements about health He changed his mind a few times. One wonders, therefore, whether he was rapped on the knuckles and would have liked to get out of the difficulty in which he found himself. However, a reassurance by the Taoiseach that what he promised will be given will make the job for Deputy Flanagan a little easier.

I think most Members of the House, even though critical by times of all Ministers, have a healthy respect for the ability which Deputy Colley has displayed here. I think every Party in the House has a policy on education and in detail. We certainly have it in detail. We have had it in detail for the past two or three years and published it. Fine Gael have the same and I assume that the Government Party have theirs, as expressed by the new Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Colley. I do not think, that in that particular field, as in relation to Health, the chief administrator in the person of the political head of the Department should be changed.

Changes are needed in education and are promised and the sooner we get these changes the better. I do not believe in somebody going in there new, with all due respect to him. I believe people regard him as a likeable sort of man but, in this delicate field of education, perhaps the person the Taoiseach now proposes as Minister for Education, Deputy O'Malley, might not be the most discreet. I do not think anybody would challenge his ability but, by times, as in the Department of Health, he has tended to kick over the traces. However, that is a matter for the Government. We shall place responsibility for all the Ministers on the head of the Taoiseach and on the Government generally.

As we propose to do again in the next two days, we had quite a long debate on the appointment of a Minister for Labour. Incidentally, let us hope that the present Minister for Industry and Commerce will be successful in the tasks that will be allotted to him and which were described by the Taoiseach when he introduced the measure in question last week. We said we believed that the person to be appointed Minister for Labour was important. There are quite a number, if not the majority of the Fianna Fáil Front Bench, to whom I personally would not entrust the Department of Labour if the new Minister is to do the tasks successfully —those which the Taoiseach said would be allotted to him. However, as a Party with connections with the trade union movement, we should like to wish the new Minister for Labour well and to say that, as far as we are concerned, in any of his efforts to relieve industrial disputes or to eliminate industrial unrest, he will have our co-operation as he will also if he demonstrates that he is prepared to accept proposals from this side of the House and from the trade union movement.

We have given our views on the Department of Transport and Power. We think it is superfluous, apart from the man who is the political head of the Department. We believe there are two or three other Ministries which could be amalgamated. There is too much work on the shoulders of some Ministers and too little on the shoulders of others. As a matter of fact, there are some Ministers who have a better time than some of the Deputies because they have so little work to do. Most of the work they do—I say this with due respect to them—is done, and can be done, by their office staff or by the Department.

I should like, also, to congratulate Deputy Seán Flanagan, who has been a Member of this House for some time, on his promotion to Minister for Health and to assure him again that, as far as we are concerned, if he goes the distance he is allowed by the Fianna Fáil Party in the matter of health, he will certainly have our support. We shall still continue to press for the type of health scheme we want but improvements are needed. We would ask him and the Government to ensure that these improvements will not be put off for very long more because they are urgently needed. I believe this is one of the big tasks—that and education— for these two particular appointments, and the sooner the new Ministers get on the job the better.

For the record, I think I should point out that it was as a matter of courtesy that I informed the Dáil of the new allocation of departmental responsibility between Ministers. This is solely a matter for the Taoiseach, and the Dáil is not asked to approve or disapprove. The only matter before the House is the appointment of Deputy Seán Flanagan as a member of the Government. If, as Deputy Cosgrave suggests, Ministers have no talents, it cannot make much difference in what Departments they exercise their lack of talent. For my part, I think that Deputies Colley, O'Malley and Seán Flanagan have already displayed, in the exercise of their responsibilities so far, very considerable talents and that is, I am sure, what most people recognise. Indeed, it was with very considerable reluctance that I contemplated transferring either Deputy Colley from the Department of Education or Deputy O'Malley from the Department of Health. Both of them so enhanced their reputations since their appointment to these offices that I think many people will be critical of the decision to transfer them. If the development of departmental policy was all that was involved, the transfers would not be justified. I believe that each Minister can give more valuable national service in his new Department.

Deputy Cosgrave professes to be ignorant about what is going on in the country either in school construction, of which the 1965 output was an all-time record, or in anything else. That argument has become a bit futile. I do not believe Deputy Cosgrave is half as ignorant as he pretends. Somebody has persuaded him that this is the right attitude for the Fine Gael Leader. We think he has got wrong advice.

None is being built now.

In reply to Deputy Corish, I would say that no appointment of another Parliamentary Secretary is intended now. I am not saying that this may not be considered at some time but it does not arise now.

There is no change of policy involved in the re-allocation of Departments amongst members of the Government. Deputy Flanagan will fulfil the policy programme outlined by the present Minister and the new Minister for Education will carry out in all respects the policy defined by Deputy Colley. These are not matters for decision by individual Ministers but by the Government and no individual Minister has made any policy announcement which was not fully approved by the Government in advance.

Question put: "That Dáil Éireann approve the nomination by the Taoiseach of Deputy Seán Flanagan for appointment by the President to be a member of the Government"
The Dáil divided: Tá, 62; Níl, 35.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Blaney, Neil T.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Boylan, Terence.
  • Brady, Philip.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Burke, Patrick J.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Carty, Michael.
  • Clohessy, Patrick.
  • Colley, George.
  • Collins, James J.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Cotter, Edward.
  • Crinion, Brendan.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Crowley, Flor.
  • Crowley, Honor M.
  • Davern, Don.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Dowling, Joe.
  • Egan, Nicholas.
  • Fanning, John.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Fitzpatrick, Thomas J. (Dublin).
  • Flanagan, Seán.
  • Foley, Desmond.
  • Gallagher, James.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gibbons, James M.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Hillery, Patrick J.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, James J.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Lemass, Seán.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Millar, Anthony G.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Mooney, Patrick.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Nolan, Thomas.
  • Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Ceallaigh, Seán.
  • O'Connor, Timothy.
  • O'Malley, Donogh.
  • Smith, Patrick.

Níl

  • Barry, Richard.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Belton, Paddy.
  • Burke, Joan T.
  • Byrne, Patrick.
  • Clinton, Mark A.
  • Connor, Patrick.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan.
  • Creed, Donal.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Donnellan, John.
  • Dunne, Thomas.
  • Esmonde, Sir Anthony C.
  • Farrelly, Denis.
  • Fitzpatrick, Thomas J. (Cavan).
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Lyons, Michael D.
  • McLaughlin, Joseph.
  • Murphy, William.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Hara, Thomas.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.K.
  • Reynolds, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, Richie.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
Tellers: Tá: Deputies Carty and Geoghegan; Níl: Deputies L'Estrange and T. Dunne.

The Dáil has approved of the nomination.