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.