Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Government Department Cleaners.

1.

asked the Minister for the Public Service if he will ensure that vacancies for the positions of cleaners in Government Departments are filled from the panel supplied by the National Manpower Service and not from among ministerial nominees.

Instructions to Departments provide that, when vacancies for cleaners are to be filled, Departments should contact the National Manpower Service. The National Manpower Service supplies a panel of candidates for consideration. The responsibility for making the final selection from the panel rests with the Department in which the vacancy occurs.

Does the Minister agree that the procedure is that when vacancies occur, the National Manpower Service send over a list of names to the relevant Government Department, that the list is usually based on the length of time these people are on Manpower records, that jobs are subsequently filled but that in many instances the jobs are not filled from the supplied list but from an unofficial list supplied by a Minister or his political associates? Does this happen?

I have not received any evidence that such is the case, nor have I received any complaints in relation to a practice such as that related by the Deputy.

A Cheann Comhairle——

As I mentioned in my reply the position is that the Departments are advised by circular as to the procedure to be followed. It is then a matter for each Department to implement that procedure and to make the final selection. I do not have a recent experience in my Department in that there has not been a recent appointment of cleaners there——

Nor in any other Department.

——but the basis of this procedure has been in operation for over 50 years. It relates back to a circular which was issued in 1932. I have not heard of any complaints about the calibre of the cleaners who have been appointed since that time.

Although the Minister does not seem to be prepared to answer the question, will he agree that what is actually happening is political jobbery of the worst kind——

That is argument, Deputy.

——and that because it affects people who are usually already in a state of poverty it is all the more reprehensible? In view of the fact that the Minister is apparently unware of this, will he say he will consult with the authorities in the National Manpower Service to establish whether what I am saying is the case, and if it is the case will he take steps to rectify the matter? Will the Minister please answer these questions?

The Deputy makes allegations of political jobbery. The arrangements in place do not fit into that category. My understanding is that names are submitted by Departments, and that people are interviewed in the Department to determine their suitability for appointment. The Deputy has made these wild allegations, but at no time since my appointment in the Department have allegations of this kind been brought to my attention.

A Cheann Comhairle——

I have allowed Deputy Gregory to make two speeches and I do not intend to allow him to continue.

The Minister does not appear to want to answer.

The Deputy will have to pursue it in some other way, he cannot just repeat the questions.

I have not done that. I have asked several different questions none of which the Minister is prepared to answer, presumably because all I am saying is accurate——

You have made two speeches.

Will the Minister put on the record that the information I put to him in the question has come directly from the National Manpower Service? It is a matter of widespread public scandal that when people ——

This is another speech, Deputy. The Deputy will have to find a more orderly occasion on which to make his speech.

I am asking if the Minister is aware that when people go to the National Manpower offices in search of these jobs as cleaners, they are almost invariably referred to their TDs because of the problem I have outlined, because it is useless——

The Deputy has asked a question. It is not in order to make a speech about the question. The Deputy should sit down and let the Minister answer.

The Deputy did not object to the system when he was placing people in corporation jobs, people who were told not to go to their TDs but to him. He was quite comfortable with the system then.

If the Minister has any evidence of that he should produce it here.

Will the Deputy please sit down?

You did not interrupt the Minister who has no right to ask questions here. At least I have a question down. Can I put it on the record——

The Minister made an interjection which was not in order either, but he did not continue for minutes with it.

The Minister for Labour has made allegations without any foundation——

I am asking——

(Interruptions.)

Does the Deputy want to be put out?

I am asking——

If he does not, he had better sit down.

I am asking questions based on fact. The Minister for Labour is making abusive comments to try to divert attention away from the facts.

The Deputy has asked a question and he should allow the Minister to answer.

If the Minister will answer I will be pleased.

The Deputy, in response to my colleague, suggests that there is no evidence in relation to what he said about Deputy Gregory's affairs at local authority level. I am saying the same thing. I have no evidence of malpractice. This is the first time this has been brought to my attention. If the Deputy has evidence of such malpractice I invite him to bring it to my attention.

If the Deputy wants to pursue this matter he will have to find another way of doing it. I have allowed him not one supplementary but probably 15.

Will the Minister consult with the National Manpower Service to establish whether what I am saying is true?

The Deputy has suggested that he has evidence to support certain allegations. If the Deputy has such evidence I invite him to furnish that to me.

Hear, hear.

I will do that. The Minister for Labour will get his answer in a couple of months' time.