THE DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - MINISTERS AND SECRETARIES BILL, 1923—(THIRD STAGE.)
There shall be established in Saorstát Eireann the several Departments of State specified and named in the eleven following sub - paragraphs, amongst which the administration and business of the public services in Saorstát Eireann shall be distributed as in the said sub-paragraphs is particularly mentioned, and each of which said Departments and the powers, duties and functions thereof shall be assigned to and administered by the Minister hereinafter named as head thereof, that is to say:—
(i) The Department of the President of the Executive Council which shall comprise the business, powers, authorities, duties and functions by the Constitution or by any existing or future Act of the Oireachtas or otherwise conferred on or to be discharged or performed by the Minister, who shall hold the office of and be styled Uachtarán na hArd-Chomhairle or (in English) the President of the Executive Council, and also the custody of and responsibility for all public archives and records and of papers and documents of State and of grants, deeds, and other instruments of title relating to the property corporeal and incorporeal, real and personal for the time being vested in Saorstát Eireann and of records of the Executive Council and also the custody of the Seal of the Executive Council, and also the responsibility for and control of the official publications of the Executive Council and also the administrative control of and responsibility for such public services and the business, powers, duties and functions thereof as may not for the time being be comprised in any of the Departments of State constituted by this Act.
(ii) The Department of Finance which shall comprise the administration and business generally of the public finance of Saorstát Eireann and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, including in particular the collection and expenditure of the revenues of Saorstát Eireann from whatever source arising (save as may be otherwise provided by law), and also the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches and officers of the public service specified in the first part of the Schedule to this Act, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, an t-Aire Airgid or (in English) the Minister for Finance.
(iii) The Department of Justice which shall comprise the administration and business generally of public services in connection with law, justice, public order and police, and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same (except such powers, duties and functions as are by law reserved to the Executive Council, and such powers, duties and functions as are by the Constitution or by law excepted from the authority of the Executive Council or of an Executive Minister), and shall include in particular the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches and officers of the public service specified in the Second Part of the Schedule to this Act, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, an t-Aire um Dhlí agus Cheart or (in English) the Minister for Justice.
(iv) The Department of Local Government and Public Health which shall comprise the administration and business generally of public services in connection with local government, public health, relief of the poor, care of the insane (including insane criminals), health insurance, elections to each House of the Oireachtas, elections to local bodies and authorities, registration of voters, maintenance of public roads and highways, registration of births, deaths and marriages, and vital statistics and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, and shall include in particular the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches and officers of the public service specified in the Third Part of the Schedule to this Act, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled an t-Aire um Rialtas Aitiúil or (in English) the Minister for Local Government and Public Health.
(v) The Department of Education which shall comprise the administration and business generally of public services in connection with Education, including primary, secondary and university education, vocational and technical training, endowed schools, reformatories, and industrial schools, and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, and shall include in particular the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches and officers of the public services specified in the Fourth Part of the Schedule to this Act, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, an t-Aire Oideachais or (in English) the Minister for Education.
(vi) The Department of Lands and Agriculture which shall comprise the administration and business generally of public services in connection with agriculture and lands, including the fixing of rents and tenure of lands, acquisition by occupying tenants of full ownership by means of public funds, enlargement and other economic improvement of holdings of land, purchase of land for distribution by way of re-sale, relief of rural congestion and like uneconomic conditions, forestry, veterinary services, survey and mapping of land, and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, and shall include in particular the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches and officers of the public service specified in the Fifth Part of the Schedule to this Act, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, an t-Aire um Thalmhuíocht or (in English) the Minister for Lands and Agriculture.
(vii) The Department of Industry and Commerce which shall comprise the administration and business generally of public services in connection with trade, commerce, industry, and labour, industrial and commercial organisations and combinations, industrial and commercial statistics, transport, shipping, natural resources, and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, and shall include in particular the business, powers, duties, and functions of the branches and officers of the public services specified in the Sixth Part of the Schedule to this Act, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, an t-Aire um Thiúscal agus Thráchtáil or (in English) the Minister for Industry and Commerce.
(viii) The Department of Fisheries which shall comprise the administration and business generally of public services in connection with fisheries, including deep-sea fisheries, tidal waters fisheries, coastal fisheries, inland waters fisheries, and industries connected with or auxiliary to the same, and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, and shall include in particular the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches and officers of the public services specified in the Seventh Part of the Schedule to this Act, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, an t-Aire um Iasgach or (in English) the Minister for Fisheries.
(ix) The Department of Posts and Telegraphs which shall comprise the administration and business generally of public services in connection with posts, telegraphs, and telephones, and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, and shall include in particular the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches and officers of the public services specified in the Eighth Part of the Schedule to this Act, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, Aire an Phuist or (in English) the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.
(x) The Department of Defence which shall comprise the administration and business of the raising, training, organisation, maintenance, equipment, management, discipline, regulation, and control according to law of the Military Defence Forces of Saorstát Eireann, and of all powers, duties, and functions connected with the same, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, an t-Aire um Chosaint or (in English) the Minister for Defence, and shall be assisted by a Council of Defence as hereinafter provided:
(xi) The Department of External Affairs which shall comprise the administration and business generally of public services in connection with communications and transactions between the Government of Saorstát Eireann and the Government of any other state or nation, diplomatic and consular representation of Saorstát Eireann in any country or place, international amenities, the granting of passports and of visés to passports, and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, an t-Aire um Ghnóthaí Coigríche or (in English) the Minister for External Affairs.
In sub-paragraph (i), line 26, after the word "Council" to insert the words:—"and also the control of the Department of External Affairs which shall comprise the administration and business generally of public services in connection with communications and transactions between the Government of Saorstát Eireann and the Government of any other state or nation, diplomatic and consular representation of Saorstát Eireann in any country or place, international amenities, the granting of passports and of visés to passports, and all powers, duties, and functions connected with the same, and of which Department the head shall be the President of the Executive Council."
The feelings which animate me in putting forward this amendment are somewhat as follows: I feel that in the interests of economy and efficiency it would be an advisable thing that the Ministry of External Affairs should be concentrated under the guidance of the President of the Executive Council. I believe that in the actual working of our affairs in communications with foreign nations the Minister for External Affairs in almost all cases would find himself called upon to confer with the President, and I think that with such a young State as the Saorstát it is hardly necessary that we should have a separate Ministry. A considerable amount of expense is attached to this Ministry, and by placing it under the guidance of the President I feel that we would save a large part of it. I do not mean for a moment to suggest that the President has not a sufficient amount of work to do at present, but I do think that it might be useful that he should take control of this Department, and, if necessary, that he should employ a Parliamentary Secretary, or obtain the necessary help otherwise.
I also would like to say that I do not wish to make any insinuations that the present Minister for External Affairs has not conducted the business in the proper manner. I feel sure that the Dáil is willing to give him full credit for his capabilities and for the manner in which he has directed the business up to the present, but I think that it would be an important thing that we should concentrate on internal rather than external affairs, and that, except on matters arising out of our trade relations, it is rather inadvisable that we should devote so much attention and place too much emphasis on our connection with outside countries as to establish and maintain a separate Ministry for that purpose. Taking all these considerations into account, I think that the Ministry should give serious consideration to this proposal. I would say, in connection with this, that in order to have this amendment complete it would have been necessary to put in an amendment deleting Paragraph 11. I have not done so, but I feel sure that if the Government see fit to adopt my amendment, they will introduce another at a later stage which would have this effect.
I desire to associate myself with this amendment, because, I think, for the reasons that I explained on Second Reading, that the Dáil would naturally look to the President for responsibility under all circumstances, and that is the only matter that is concerned in the creation of a separate Ministry responsible for all matters in connection with external affairs. The facts bear out the contention that I have made. There has never been an occasion in which any explanation has been given to the Dáil, either in the days when it sat as a Constituent Assembly or since then, when it sat as the first House of the Free State Oireachtas, in which a statement has been made respecting the external policy of the Free State by anybody except the President. There have been times when the Minister for External Affairs has answered in respect of the expenditure and estimates of the Department, but on main questions of policy it has been the case, and I contend it must in the future inevitably be the case, that all questions on external policy will be answered for here by the President of the Executive Council.
Therefore, I think it is only fitting, seeing that he is to assume the major responsibilities in the Dáil for the policy of the Department, that he should be the person who should take over the entire responsibility of the conduct of this Department, leaving the administrative details to be conducted by some Civil Servant, who will be responsible directly to him. In that way a separate Ministry, and the expense of a separate Ministry, will be saved, and that extra expense will be saved simply by achieving what must always be the case, and expectation of the Dáil, that is, that the President should deal directly himself with all external affairs. It was for this reason that it was so desirable that the President should be relieved of the work imposed on him until the last election in connection with the Finance Department. Now, these financial responsibilities do not directly bear on him. There is a Minister for Finance, and the President is relieved of all other matters, and should be able and should be expected to attend to external affairs, and the responsibility for these affairs in the Dáil. But to face facts quite frankly, everybody knows that the chief work of this Ministry has not been external affairs, but publicity, and it is desirable that a separate department of publicity should cease to exist. If there is any statement to be made, let that statement be made from each department, whichever department be concerned in the issuing of that statement, without there being some official Ministerial publicity department. We know that several of the Ministries have had from time to time occasion, very rightly and properly, to make statements to the Press.
There is no question of publicity, I think, in the amendment.
That will arise with regard to the deletion of the Section, presumably.
There is no question of publicity in Paragraph XI either.
Very well, I bow to your ruling, Sir, and I will not touch on that matter, but if I may leave it with a sentence with your permission, it is this, reference was made to it on the Second Reading, and what was said on the matter in the Second Reading, by whatever Deputy made the statement, I entirely endorse. I confine myself, therefore, to the immediate question, which is this, that inasmuch as the President will naturally be held responsible both by the Dáil and the country at large for the guidance of the policies of this State in regard to its affairs with all other countries, that the President should be always, as a cardinal principle, both President and the Minister for External Affairs, without the separate creation of a Ministry, and so save extra expense by getting a more consistent and logical division of responsibilities and offices.
I wish to say a word in favour of the amendment. I believe it is desirable that the President should answer to the Dáil for external affairs, and I note that it does, in fact, retain a Department of External Affairs. There is no intention, I presume, in the amendment to disband the Department of External Affairs. The object is to ensure that that Department shall be controlled by the President. I think it is quite desirable, and almost a certainty, that whoever may be nominally in control of the Department of External Affairs in practice, for any important matters the President will, as a matter of fact, answer to the Dáil and be in ultimate control. I do not want for a moment to question your ruling respecting publicity, but it did occur to me that when international amenities are under the Department that the publicity activities of this Department might well come under that general term. They have, as a matter of fact, been quite interesting to nations beyond the seas, the activities of this Department, and do conform to the term "international amenities." That by the way. I think it is desirable that the President should at all times be answerable for matters as between the Saorstát and Great Britain, but the external affairs will be, I think, mainly in connection with Great Britain, and the practice that has already grown up by force of circumstances will necessarily be the practice in the future, and, therefore, I support the amendment.
I think the general purpose of this Bill is to define a certain number of Ministers and Departments, without saying who shall be in charge of them. Actually, as the Bill stands, there is nothing to prevent those Departments being under the President. A good deal of talk has gone on about the Ministry of External Affairs being a luxury, and so on. You have to have it, and you cannot get away from it. I daresay there are people who wish to go back to the status or lack of status implied by the Home Rule Bill of 1914. This is now a Sovereign Nation, and it has to do with other countries. We cannot separate ourselves from other countries, and if we were utterly cut off from other countries, Deputy Gorey and the party he represents would be the first people to suffer. This country has the power to initiate, to negotiate, to sign and decide upon the ratification of Treaties with other countries, and almost within the first week after we received our new status, questions arose which had to be decided. There is no reason why this Department should not be under the President. The reason it was not, was due to the circumstances of the time. One of the speakers has just said that the most important business is Internal Affairs, and he did not want External Affairs stressed too much. It was the very reason that Internal Affairs were the overwhelming pre-occupation of the country, and the Ministry, that made it necessary to have a Ministry of External Affairs. When the time comes for the President to take over this Ministry, I can assure the Dáil it will have no trouble in getting rid of me.
With regard to the big question of policy, there is such a thing as joint responsibility. On the big question of policy the whole Ministry has equal responsibility, but the peculiar thing about this Ministry is it probably needs the attention of its Minister in small details more than does any other Ministry. Also an entirely new situation was created. Questions of policy are involved in matters which seem very small. Within the first week there was a question of policy involved as to whether we should pay 30/- for the repatriation of one of our Nationals. The Department must be the first pre-occupation of the Minister in charge, and it requires more his personal attention in matters of detail than any other department.
With regard to expenditure, we talk about economy. What does anybody think the saving would be, if they did away with it as a Ministry, put it under a Secretary, and made it a sub-department of a Ministry? The obvious effect it would have outside would be that we would go out of our way to take from the status of this country, by implying that we had no foreign affairs, which means we had no international standing. On the other side, I do not know whether people realise that Ministers are paid less than the major Civil Servants. They are paid less, because the major Civil Servants' salaries amount to the same as the Ministers', and they have, in addition, security of tenures and pensions. Does anybody think you could hand over this Department to a minor Civil Servant? We are actually creating a precedent. Is it suggested it would be a good thing that this Department should be under a minor Civil Servant? In effect the policy would be dictated by a minor Civil Servant. So far as I am concerned, I realised long before the economy scare started that there was need for economy in this country. The first thing I did was to do away with things that seemed to me more ornamental than effectual.
Was publicity one of them?
Publicity has been cut down to a minimum.
Publicity in this connection is not in the amendment.
I was answering the question of Deputy Figgis.
The question should not have been asked. If the Minister is prepared to deal with publicity as a branch of international amenities, as Deputy Johnson outlined, I would not see any objection to that.
There has been a lot of talk in the earlier stages of the cost of the Ministry of External Affairs as compared with that of other countries. We are a mother country with the major part of our people abroad. We have four million Irish people at home, and 25 millions abroad. Canada is, therefore, as far as nationals are concerned, much smaller than we are. My Ministry costs 1/40th of what is cost by the Canadian Foreign Department. My whole Ministry costs rather less than the Australian External Affairs Department in London costs. New Zealand, which is infinitely smaller than Ireland, maintains an office in London which costs more than a half of what our whole Ministry costs. The South African Government have an office in London which costs considerably more than the whole of the External Affairs here. Our Department has two offices in America, offices in Holland, Belgium, France, and so on. The Estimates have been referred to as being over £60,000. Those do not include the cost of membership of the League of Nations. I realise the need for economy so well that I think that the Estimate we made this year, after including membership to the League, will pay our way in the League for this year, and possibly leave a certain balance over. Deputy Figgis said in the earlier stages of the Bill that the Department of External Affairs was doing very little work now. I do not know what steps Deputy Figgis took to find out what work it was doing. Deputy Gorey said that we were not concerned with foreign affairs, but he entirely failed to understand the position of this country. Deputy Gorey also said that this would be known as the Ministry for finding a job for somebody. I can assure him that it is not a Ministry for finding a job for me, and, as I have already said, as soon as the President takes it over, I will leave it with very good grace. Deputy Cooper pointed out that Monsieur Poincaire was the Minister for Foreign Affairs in France. That is because the preponderating matter in France is foreign affairs, and if that were the preponderating matter in Ireland, I have no doubt the President would give attention to it now as he gave in the last year to other matters. Deputy Redmond spoke considerably about the Publicity Department. That is a matter to which I would like to refer, but I am not permitted to do so. Mr. Milroy complained of the fact that our trade agents abroad are under the Department of External Affairs.
Is it in order for a Minister to refer to a Deputy as Mr. So-and-so?
It is not often the Minister speaks here.
I apologise. In other countries foreign representatives are under the Department of Foreign Affairs, and for this reason, the moment we come to deal with other countries, although it seems to be a straightforward trade matter, there are always political and international questions arising. The obvious thing is clear to everybody and a trade department can be expected to look after that, but you need a co-ordinating department to look after the political or national point of view, to suggest recommendations and maintain co-ordination. So far as our department is concerned with foreign trade, we of course, consult with, and submit to, the trade department any matters that affect trade only, but the suggestion that we are making a cumbersome machine for dealing with trade with other countries is quite untrue and quite unnecessary. We follow in that just the lines that are followed in other countries, and those are not arbitrarily followed. They exist in the very nature of the circumstances. On many occasions when dealing with things outside of Ireland, there is not only one department but many involved. The External Affairs Department has to serve as a co-ordinating factor in these things and has to consider the point of view of the various Departments that may be contradictory and present the national or political view. As I said before, there is nothing in this Bill which prevents this Department being under the President, and the reason it has not been under him so far is owing to the exigencies of the present situation.
I would like to ask your ruling, sir, with regard to publicity being under the External Affairs Department. Under this Bill it is not put in charge of publicity, and it is, therefore, open for me to argue that it is no longer a wholetime job for a Minister, but should be under the President. Is that a legitimate line of argument?
I would rather hear any line of argument before saying whether it was legitimate or not, but on the question of order about this particular amendment, paragraph 11 of Section 1 details the scope of the Department of External Affairs, and says: "Of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, an t-Aire um Ghnóthaí Coigríche, or (in English) the Minister for External Affairs." Under Sections 10 and 11 of the Bill it will be possible for the President to be also the Minister for External Affairs, or it would be possible for any other Minister to be Minister for External Affairs as well. As I understand the amendment, its object is to make it statutory that the President, and only the President, shall be the Minister for External Affairs. That, I think, is the object of the amendment.
The question is really not a question of the behaviour of the present Department, not a question of the personality of the present Minister or any other Minister, real or imaginary, but a question whether the Department should be by statute under the President. The Executive Council, if the amendment is passed, would be prevented from having any individual other than the President as Minister for External Affairs. That seems to be the exact position. The actions of the Department come up on the Estimates.
Would it be open for me to reply to some of the statements of the Minister?
There are one or two points to which, I think, attention may be called in the Minister's speech. It seems to be a most fortunate Department, because one moment he was magnifying it and at another minimising it. It is like Mahommed's corpse; it is not important enough to reach the ministerial heaven, and it is too important to come under a subordinate Civil Servant. He compared it with the cost of the offices in London, of New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, but he did not mention that these offices have great immigration schemes to deal with in trying to attract emigrants to take up the great waste spaces. That is not our problem, as really we want to keep our people in the country. The comparison in part is a fallacious one. The Minister talked of our lowering ourselves, in reply to Deputy Gorey, if we do not have a separate Ministry. In Canada Mr. Mackenzie became Prime Minister and also Minister for External Affairs.
If I may be allowed to explain, I did state it would be lowered if there was not a Minister in charge of it who made it his first pre-occupation. I did not say it would be lowered if it were under the President.
It is not his first pre-occupation. Surely the Minister knows that Canada is vitally concerned with her status, most emphatically now as she is an independent Treaty-making power. Surely no Prime Minister or party leader is first pre-occupied with external affairs. I think that even now the time has come when the real head of the State should be the person really responsible for external affairs. He must be in the nature of things, and I think the time has come when he should assume all responsibility in the face of the world, and take the office on his own shoulders. I support the amendment.
For the first time the Minister has been good enough to speak on this matter. We have not heard him very often in the Dáil. When he stood up I think he ought to have told us how much this Ministry is costing. I am sorry I was not here to listen to what the Minister had got to say. I want to know how much the Staff of the Ministry is actually costing, from the Minister down. He said a Department of the Ministry was needed in London to deal with our trade. Why have we a Ministry of Industry and Commerce if it is not able to deal with the trade of this country? We have a Ministry of Agriculture which deals with our trade in agricultural products. The Minister for External Affairs objects to the statement that his Ministry will be known in the country as a Ministry for finding jobs. I may tell you that outside the Dáil, and amongst the plain men in the street, it will be known as a Ministry of very little utility and a Ministry purely for finding jobs for somebody—not for the present Minister, perhaps. I do not think that the President of the Executive Council, if he is given this portfolio, will be overworked. He ought to be able to deal with this Ministry of External Affairs, if there is such a thing to be attended to; some of us very much doubt it. The President can deal with the political end of it, if there is a political end to it. The commercial end of it can be dealt with by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, with the assistance of the Ministry of Agriculture. I do not see the necessity for this Ministry at all, either its staff or its head, and therefore I support the amendment.
The question of the existence of this Ministry has not arisen. The cost of the Department of External Affairs does not arise. It is a question of whether the Department of External Affairs, as defined in the amendment which takes the definition from para. 11 of Section 1 of the Bill, should be under a separate Minister or be compulsorily under the President and nobody else.
I support the amendment on the grounds that it is desirable in my view that the very important work of this Department should be in the hands of the head of the Executive Council because of its importance. For entirely different reasons from those of Deputy Gorey, I support the amendment. I believe the existence of this Department will, and must necessarily, increase if we are to get the position in world affairs that we are entitled to. I think it must necessarily increase and will require a Department as laid down in the Bill. I think it is so important that it should be a Department of which the President of the Executive Council for the time being must be the head.
Most of the arguments of the Minister for External Affairs supported the contention that to the outside world the fact that the President of the Executive Council is also Minister for External Affairs will add to its prestige and importance. It is because I desire there shall be statutory obligation that the President shall have charge of that Department, that I support the amendment.
My chief object in rising is to stress and emphasise what already has been pointed out, that it is not a question of the existence or nonexistence of a Department, but simply a question of the political head-ship of that Department. I might remind Deputies that it is really quite a short time since they, on the nomination of the President, approved each political head of all the Departments that there is joint responsibility for in the Executive Council. They ought not to have approved these without consideration, and when the President nominated his Council, naming a man for each post and for the political head-ship of each Department, presumably Deputies gave the matter the consideration they ought to have given it.
They did as a matter of confidence.
Deputies will remember also that while the Dáil was sitting here demanding the very full attention of the President and other Ministers, there was sitting in London a Conference, not without importance for this country, for its people and for its future—the Imperial Conference.
Throughout six months the Minister for External Affairs was in attendance at that Conference representing this country and reporting to the President. The President, not being a bird, cannot be in two places at the same time.
The Minister for External Affairs was present in London watching and safeguarding the interests of this country and reporting to the President of the Executive Council. He could not have attended there with the same weight and in the same representative capacity other than as a Minister for External Affairs. If Deputies consider that the President himselfqua Minister for External Affairs, should have been present in London throughout that Conference, then they have got to measure the corresponding loss on this side due to the absence of the head of the Executive Council.
It is not all quite so simple as it seems to Deputies Heffernan and Gorey, and above all it is not a question of economy to be effected by scrapping a particular Department, because that Department cannot be scrapped. It is simply a question of the political head-ship of that Department and I think I have pointed out one practical inconvenience that would follow if the political headship had been vested in the President.
The Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand did attend the Imperial Conference and they are not birds. They arranged for business to be carried on in their Parliaments by their colleagues, sometimes at a good deal of inconvenience. I have no doubt that the Minister for Home Affairs does not mistrust the Vice-President's capacity for carrying on the business of the Dáil. I think those things can be all arranged very easily as in the other Dominions. I think it would be an advantage to Ireland to have had our President on an equal footing instead of having—I speak with all respect to the excellent work the Minister for External Affairs did —a subordinate Minister doing so.
While the Imperial Conference was sitting Canada and Australia were not running a little Civil War.
I would like to touch upon one or two points made by the Minister for External Affairs, and in doing so I must congratulate him on what I consider to have been almost his maiden speech in this Chamber. Not quite his maiden speech, but almost, and that very fact itself illustrates the contention that has been made throughout on this amendment and as the whole cause of this amendment, not that there should not be a Department for External Affairs, but that the responsibility for that Department must invariably be answered for in this Dáil by the President. That has always been the case in the past and will be the case in the future.
The Minister stated that the Ministry was not a luxury. We are not dealing with whether the Ministry is a luxury or whether the Minister for External Affairs is himself a luxury. What we are dealing with is that in the circumstances the Dáil and the country will look to the President for responsibility for this Department. That being the case, even minor economies are sometimes desirable, and the economy effected by saving the Minister's salary is an economy that will be quite desirable for this country. The Minister has stated in reply to that that a Secretary would have to be appointed. I imagine that there is a Secretary there already. There has been a Secretary. A Secretary's salary has been voted. The Minister for External Affairs referred to the joint responsibility of the Executive Council. There we are all at one. There is joint responsibility. Whoever in a Conference abroad, whether in Geneva, or in London or elsewhere, answers for that joint responsibility, all that is sought to be effected by this amendment is that for that joint responsibility one person, and one person only, will be answerable in this Dáil. And that person will be the person who must answer, who will be expected to answer, who always in the past has answered for External Affairs.
We had occasion a month ago when a question was put by Deputy Milroy respecting the affairs of this State and its relation with another State, to appreciate this. A question was put down on the motion for the adjournment. By whom was the answer given? By the President. Go back over the proceedings for the past year, and every time a vital question has been asked in this Dáil, who has intervened in the debate to deal with the question? The President. The Dáil would not be satisfied if any other person than the President had answered. Therefore, the procedure that has been adopted, by the practice of the Executive Council itself, is a procedure for which statutory effect has been sought in this amendment. That is all. The Minister says that the President may take the responsibility for it at an early date. That still does not answer the contention of the amendment. The Minister for External Affairs says that he would go with a good grace. We would bear his going with philosophy and fortitude. But that still does not answer the purpose of the amendment, and that is, that the responsibility for External Affairs in the Free State is a responsibility that the people and the Legislature will look to the President himself to acquit. Therefore, it is a responsibility that should be attached in any legislation in the Dáil to the Presidency of the Executive Council.
As I propose to vote against this amendment, if it comes to a division, I would like to say that the arguments that have been used in favour of the amendment seem to cut under the importance of the office of the Minister for External Affairs. In the present state of the country there is not one of the Ministries that is more important, in so far as the work done under this Department is largely initiatory work. At the present time, at all events, I would be very sorry to see the Department left in charge of any subordinate. I quite sympathise with the arguments that have been used that the President should be Minister for External Affairs. I think it is fallacious to say that he should be directly the Minister for External Affairs, because I rather visualise the President as being the head of all Departments. As President of the Executive Council, in matters of importance I think it is very right and proper that we should have his views, certainly on matters of External Affairs. I do not think that that in itself justified the abolition of the Ministry of External Affairs. In my judgment, and with the development that we hope and expect in the country, the work of the Minister for External Affairs will be largely increased. We all hope it will be largely increased, and we hope that we still will have the assistance of the President of the Executive Council in addition to the Minister for External Affairs.
May I point out what is an inconvenience, if this amendment is adopted. It is a very definite inconvenience. I thoroughly agree with Deputy Johnson that this Department for External Affairs will become more important in the future, and that it will continue to grow to be more and more important. It does not require much stretch of the imagination to see that a state of affairs may arise in which the President may have another portfolio besides his Presidency. Will you then burden him with the Ministry of External Affairs as well? In that case you tie the hands of the Executive Council too much. It may work very badly to the interest of the other Departments quite as important as the Ministry of External Affairs. As to the arguments used by Deputy Figgis, and as to the President's replies here, we may point out that the President on all important questions, whether at home or abroad, is expected to be heard by the Dáil and the country. Therefore, that is no argument. There was no suggestion that all those other Ministries should be merged in the Presidency, though he may have spoken for them at times. No real sound argument has been adduced to force the President to adopt this particular amendment.
I should like to say that it appears to me that this amendment has been canvassed on every side rather than on the side which, I think, was originally intended, when it was put down. The last two Deputies, when addressing themselves to this question, appeared to me to have had a very clear conception of what was meant. In the first place, the point made by Deputy O'Sullivan is a point of very considerable importance. While to-day we may cite the case of Canada, Australia or England, or one of the other countries mentioned, and say that the Prime Minister, in any one of them, is the head of the Executive Council and has also got a portfolio of Foreign or of External Affairs, as the case may be, we must remember that there were examples also of remarkable statesmen in other countries having other portfolios which must have appealed to them in their judgment—and I presume their judgment was as good in their day as the judgments of the statesmen of Canada or of Australia in our time—of paramount importance to their own country at that particular time.
In this case should you have in the future a Prime Minister, let us say, of the profound depths of knowledge of Deputy Figgis, just imagine for a moment Deputy Figgis burdening himself with such an unimportant matter as the portfolio of External Affairs when such great questions as Finance, Industry and Commerce and Agriculture were to be taken up. I would expect him to take at least four or five of these Ministries, and even if he were to do that I think we would be limiting the capacity and the capabilities of a man of that type if we were to say that he shall only take the portfolio for External Affairs and that he was to be bound to it and could not get out of it. I may say for my own part that, in considering this question of offering portfolios to Ministers, or in asking members to take up the responsibilities of office, I had in mind always the man's own desires or capabilities for these particular posts. I have no hesitation in saying, for my own part, that I have no particular ability whatever of any sort or kind for External Affairs. Personally, I would feel very unhappy if I were offered, even supposing I were not in my present position, such a portfolio as that for External Affairs, and I would certainly have to refuse it.
It may be that there is some exception taken by Deputies to the fact that I have not got a Ministry at present. In answer to that I suppose I am entitled to say that I am not a free agent altogether. I would like very much to have one. I did give up the Ministry of Finance with some regret. Of all the Ministries, it was the one that I had, perhaps, the most aptitude for. There appears to me to be two questions put forward by certain Deputies in recommending this particular office for the President: either to get rid of the present Minister for External Affairs, or to saddle the office on a man who does not want it, or at least who feels that he has not any aptitude for it. I do not know whether that attitude can be general in the Dáil. I rather hesitate to think it would be. I do not under-rate the importance of this Ministry. I do think that in speaking of Foreign Affairs for some years past our minds have, perhaps, expanded a little more than the merits of the case warranted. When speaking of Foreign Affairs we hear now and again upon various platforms the question asked:
"What does the world think of men being left on hunger-strike in Mountjoy?" or something of that kind. That, I suggest, is an unbalanced view to take on the question of Foreign Affairs.
If you were to ask me at this moment what I consider to be the most important duty in the State, I would say that the internal matters are of far more importance than the matter of External Affairs. But, if you want to pourtray before an audience something which would attract their imagination, or stir up their enthusiasm, and give them an inspiration, you will say, "What is the world thinking of us now?" My answer is that the world is just thinking whether we are managing to do well or ill the work that lies before us. There are other Departments of the State just at present which would need the attention of the President very much more than the Department for External Affairs, and more particularly in the present circumstances when the person who is occupying the position of President has no aptitude whatever for External Affairs.
During the last two or three months, when I should have been in another place, the Minister for External Affairs was in a position to represent this country. I understand he did it well, and it is not from himself that I have that information. The Minister for Education was also there, and he was very well pleased with the work that was done by the Minister for External Affairs. None of the other States, during that period, had their Parliament sitting, and I suppose I would have been told, perhaps not here but elsewhere, if I were absent from this Dáil during that time, that I was paying more attention to foreigners than I was to the people at home, so that I suggest we may take an unbalanced view of these matters.
With regard to the question of the saving of the Minister's salary, the saving of the Minister's salary may be a loss in other ways. I would not feel satisfied in the present instance, as I have said, in taking up this office, nor would I recommend the Dáil to adopt this amendment, because the time may come when other people occupying my position may feel that they themselves would be able to render much better service in that office of the State than in the office of External Affairs, and that if they were to be burdened with this particular Ministry in addition they would not be able to give the close attention to important matters of State which these matters would warrant.
My intention in bringing forward this amendment was not to do away with the department of External Affairs, but to retain it under the headship of the President of the Executive Council. Having heard the statement made by the President, in regard to his lack of ability and aptitude, or rather his alleged lack of ability and aptitude, for carrying on the business of External Affairs, I am rather inclined to think that I made a mistake. I feel perfectly confident, however, that he has all the necessary qualifications for the position, and I am sure that he is entirely too modest in regard to his estimate of his own ability. With regard to the point in reference to the matter of economy, I am quite aware of the comparatively small saving that would be made by this change if it were brought about. It would only mean a saving of £1,700 a year, or perhaps less, because if it happened that the Minister for External Affairs is removed and the Ministry put under the headship of the President of the Executive Council we would, no doubt, save the £1,700 a year attaching to that office, but very likely a Parliamentary Secretary would have to be appointed, with a salary attached approximating to the amount saved. But economy goes further than that, and one of the main things about economy is the example we give to the country. We would be then setting an example of economy from here, even if only on items of the very smallest importance. We, who are in close touch with the people of the country, find criticisms of that kind, when we go down into the country, brought to our notice. We hear that there are eleven Ministers, with very high salaries, and we are asked, "Why don't you cut these down?" I felt that, in moving this amendment, I was aiming at eliminating the Ministry of the least importance in the affairs of this country. I do not say that the Minister himself is of the least importance. What I say is that this Ministry of External Affairs is the one of least importance, and I am still of opinion, that from that point of view, it would be very desirable that my amendment should be accepted.
I am aware, at the same time, of the importance of this Ministry and of this Department to the farming industry of this country. I am sure it is very necessary that we should be in close touch with the different agricultural countries throughout Europe, but I feel there is considerable danger that in our new nationhood we may be liable to over-estimate our importance in the world, and that, like the frog in the fable, we are apt to blow ourselves out and regard our own opinion as of such importance in the affairs of the world that we may be in danger of bursting just with the sense of our own importance as the frog did. For that reason I think it might be advisable that the Ministry of External Affairs should be placed under the headship of the President of the Executive Council. I do not know any person who would be in a better position to judge the importance of the different matters which might come up with regard to the position of Ireland, and concerning its connection with foreign countries.
Another point I wish to mention is this, I would like to support Deputy Bryan Cooper with regard to the comparison made between the cost of the Irish High Commissioner in London, and that of Canada, New Zealand, and other Dominions.
As a matter of explanation, may I say I did not institute a comparison between the cost of the Irish High Commissioner in London and other High Commissioners. I said that one branch of the Department of External Affairs of these various countries would cost more than the whole of our Ministry.
The Deputy was alluding to a statement by Deputy Bryan Cooper.
As a matter of fact, I understood the Minister to express himself when he spoke as he has expressed himself just now.
I misunderstood. I will not go further with that now. Taking all this matter into account, I still think that my amendment is a good one and that it is advisable that we should in this Dáil abolish the Ministry of External Affairs, and place that Department under the headship of the President of the Executive Council.
at this stage took the Chair.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 27; Níl, 49.
- Pádraig F. Baxter.
- Seán Buitléir.
- John J. Cole.
- John Conlan.
- Seán de Faoite.
- Darrell Figgis.
- John Good.
- David Hall.
- Connor Hogan.
- Séamus Mac Cosgair.
- Tomás Mac Eoin.
- Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
- Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
- Risteárd Mac Liam.
- Tomás de Nógla.
- Tomás O Conaill.
- Aodh O Cúlacháin.
- Liam O Daimhín.
- Eamon O Dubhghaill.
- Seán O Duinnín.
- Donchadh S. O Guaire.
- Mícheál R. O hIfearnáin.
- Domhnall O Mocháin.
- Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
- Tadhg O Murchadha.
- Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clán).
- Nicholas Wall.
- Earnán Altún.
- Earnán de Blaghd.
- Séamus Breathnach.
- Seoirse de Bhulbh.
- Próinsias Bulfin.
- Séamus de Búrca.
- Louis J. D'Alton.
- Maighréad Ní Choileáin Bean Uí
- P. J. Egan.
- Henry J. Finlay.
- Desmond Fitzgerald.
- John Hennigan.
- William Hughes.
- Seosamh Mac a' Bhrighde.
- Alasdair Mac Caba.
- Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.
- Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
- Maolmhire Mac Eochadha.
- Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
- Pádraig Mac Giollagáin.
- Seán P. Mac Giobúin.
- Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
- Liam Mac Sioghaird.
- Liam Mag Aonghusa.
- Pádraig S. Mag Ualghairg.
- Martin M. Nally.
- Peadar O hAodha.
- Mícheál O hAonghusa.
- Ailfrid O Broin.
- Criostóir O Broin.
- Próinsias O Cathail.
- Aodh O Cinnéide.
- Conchubhair O Conghaile.
- Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
- Peadar S. O Dubhghaill.
- Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
- Eamon S. O Dúgáin.
- Séamus O Leadáin.
- Fionán O Loingsigh.
- Thomas O'Mahony.
- Risteárd O Maolchatha.
- Patrick K. Hogan (Luimneach).
- Ailfrid O Raithile.
- Seán M. O Súilleabháin.
- Andrew O'Shaughnessy.
- Caoimhghin O hUigín.
- Seán Priomhdhail.
- Patrick W. Shaw.
- Liam Thrift.
Amendment declared lost.
On a point of order, there is a Deputy in the House who has not cast his vote.
The Deputy is not sitting on the benches. A vote could not be taken from a person sitting outside the benches. One Deputy has recently come in.
There was a Deputy in the House when the vote was being taken who did not vote. I thought that any Deputy in the House was supposed to cast his vote.
Neither of the two Deputies is technically in the House. They are both in the passage outside.
On a point of order, is the Standing Order carried out by Deputies leaving the House before the roll call is announced, or has it become obsolete? I notice several members who were here have gone out.
Deputies are supposed to remain in their places until the result of the division is announced.
Amendment No. 2 not moved.
Mr. P. HOGAN (Clare):
I beg to move:—
In sub-paragraph (iii), line 44, after the word "police" to insert the words "elections to each House of the Oireachtas, elections to local bodies and authorities, registration of voters."
There is nothing very drastic in the amendment I am proposing. It is merely an endeavour to transfer from the Ministry of Local Government what anybody would consider is not appropriate to that Ministry to what would appear to be its proper place— the Ministry of Justice. I do not propose to break up the present machinery that is there for the collection of such data as is necessary for the preparation of registers and the conduct of election work in general. I only propose to transfer the lever of Government from the hands of the Minister for Local Government to the hands of the Minister for Justice. If any Minister is in a position to see that justice is carried out during elections and in the preparation of the registers and such work, the Minister for Justice is that person. When a Ministry of Health was established in England on a more scientific basis, and different departments were set up under that Ministry, this matter of the preparation of registers and election procedure in general was transferred to the Home Office, which is equivalent to the Ministry of Justice in this Government. I suppose it may be argued that justice, either theoretical or applied, has very little to do with elections. That is a matter I will leave to the opinion of the different Deputies. But if any Minister is competent and in a position to see that justice is practised in electioneering work, and in the preparation of registers, I think the Minister for Justice is that person.
This is one of those services which it is possible to transfer, even after the Bill is passed. That matter has been considered. I do not think it would be right to say it has been under consideration. But the Minister for Home Affairs has considered it himself, and I am not clear as to whether the Minister for Local Government has considered it or not. But it is under consideration, and if this amendment were to be pressed and passed we would be committed to this particular alteration without being convinced that it is satisfactory. I incline to the view that it will be found necessary to make this alteration, but I think that the Deputy ought to leave it at that and I can assure him that it will get consideration.
It is delightful to hear the President express himself in the way he has done, but one would imagine that the Bill was presented to the Dáil simply for ratification without consideration. Surely, even though this matter is under consideration, or has been considered by Ministers, or some of them, that will not, or should not, deprive the Dáil of expressing its opinion as to the merits of this amendment. I think that the fact that the President has expressed himself in the way he has done rather encourages us to express the view more strongly that this particular function of government should be taken out of the hands of the Local Government Department and placed under the Ministry which is in charge of public order.
The Ministry for Local Government and Public Health, as it now will be, will tend more and more to deal with matters of public health. The function of preparing registers and looking after elections seems to be quite foreign to the work of Local Government and Public Health but is peculiarly fitting to that Department which is responsible for public order. A proposition was made, I think it will be remembered, at an earlier stage of the proceedings of the Dáil, that a functionary should be appointed specially for the purpose of looking after elections and all pertaining to elections. That did not meet with the approval of the Dáil. The Ministry for Justice, which is in charge of public order, seems very much more appropriate for the work of preparing registers and taking charge of the elections to the Houses of the Oireachtas and local bodies. I hope Deputies will express their views on this matter rather for the guidance of the Government than otherwise. If the matter is still open, perhaps even before the Bill passes finally, the Ministry will be able to make up its mind as to whether this particular Department should be transferred to the Ministry of Justice.
I take it that the main reason why this question of elections is at present conducted by the Local Government Department is that the register is prepared by the local bodies through the agency of the rate collectors and so on. That is a fairly substantial reason why the control should lie where it is at present. There has been a good deal of complaint and discontent about the manner in which the registers have been prepared and there is a feeling that they ought to be prepared by the police—the Civic Guard in the country and the Metropolitan Police in the city. If that change were to come about it would remove, in my opinion, the case for responsibility by the Local Government Minister for the franchise and for election work generally. If we were asked at the moment whether the Civic Guard could take responsibility for that work and could be relied upon to carry it out thoroughly, we would hesitate to accept the responsibility. At the moment you have not a full or a normal establishment in the country as there are about 150 more stations to be established. The question could only be considered when you would have a complete establishment, and when you would have less of a strain on the police forces than at present exists. In discussing the matter with the Minister for Local Government that seems to be the situation, that if responsibility for the preparation of the register were to pass to the police, and consequently to the Ministry for Home Affairs, or Ministry for Justice, as it will be when this Bill is passed, then the full control of elections should also pass.
I hope the change will be made and that the Ministry who it is said are thinking over the matter will bring about the change very soon. It is not directly to that, however, that I wish to address a question at this stage. It is to a statement made by the President which perhaps strictly arises at a later stage, as it undoubtedly will, but which should also be considered here because it is proper to the consideration of the sub-sections to this Section that we are now considering. The President stated it would be possible, if such a change were judged to be desirable, to transfer that function from the Local Government Department to the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Ministry of Justice as it then will be. I presume he is referring to sub-section 2 of Section 11 dealing with the power of the Executive Council to distribute public services amongst Ministers. That raises a question in regard to this Section, particularly in regard to all its sub-sections. Here is a definite allocation of service for a Department. If this Bill be passed, when it becomes an Act it will be the law of the land that these various functions shall be allocated to different Departments. Is it the intention that there may be within the purview of this Act, although these sections have set out definite boundaries to certain Departments, that these boundaries may afterwards be varied by the Executive Council? If so, and if that is the interpretation that is to be given in the consideration of these sub-sections, naturally a good deal of the discussion of these sub-sections would be very materially changed.
It is definitely stated here that these services that Deputy Hogan desires to transfer from the Local Government Department to the Ministry of Home Affairs are allocated to the Ministry of Local Government. When they are allocated there it becomes an Act, and surely if it is desirable to transfer them, if the Ministry think they should be transferred, they should be transferred while this Bill is before the Dáil.
May I point out that the Bill, in Section 11, makes express provision enabling the redistribution of public services, and in a matter of this kind, which will probably require legislation, it would be very inconvenient to proceed to redistribute the functions before you have legislation providing new machinery. For instance, if the method of compiling registration lists is to be taken from one body of persons and put in the hands of another body it will require an Act. If in the meantime you allocate the function to the Minister for Justice he will, during that indefinite period, have to take charge of persons who are more naturally under the Minister for Local Government, so that if this reform is effected it will require legislation, and attendant on that legislation an order could be made, under Section 11, redistributing this and putting it under Justice.
On the point of the practicability of this amendment, if I am not mistaken it was found that during the preparation of the lists of the register that certain officials of the Local Government Department were not doing their work satisfactorily, and provision was made for somebody else to do that work. It is quite possible that may be required again, and I can see that even within this amendment the satisfactory officials of the Local Government Department may still be employed, until the full machinery is at work, as agents for the Minister for Home Affairs or the Minister for Justice, as he may be. I do not think it is unknown in Government services for servants of one Ministry to do duty on behalf of another Ministry, and I think that that might well be accomplished even though this amendment were accepted.
I cannot accept the amendment. This amendment and the next one are much the same. The next includes the charge of roads and highways. The mere selection of one Minister as regards another does not involve very many considerations other than one which might be put forward as regards their adaptability for a particular class of work, but the taking of the ordinary machinery for the registration of voters from Local Government and handing it over to the Ministry of Justice is a step for which no reason has been given that would convince me that it was a desirable improvement on the present situation. If there be anything wrong at all it is in the compilation, and that involves a number of very serious questions. There are people who consider that they have a vested interest in that particular class of work. Vested interests of persons occupying positions under local authorities are usually costly things to annul, unless there is a very grave reason for annulling them. You can dismiss, but if you simply take away, there must be compensation. The local authority would, in my view, hesitate to compensate in a case of that sort, and the question is really too complicated to be dealt with in the manner of an amendment such as that, and at the same time the fact of improving it is what I believe the Deputy has in mind in moving the amendment. No reason has been given as to how this would be better administered under one Minister than under another. No reason has been given as to any particular machinery that one Minister might bring into play that is not in play at present. If, on the other hand, there is to be an entire alteration of the system of registration that alteration is a big question, involving many considerations which I do not think would be disposed of by passing this amendment.
Amendment put, and declared lost.
Amendment by Mr. R. Corish:—In Sub-paragraph (iv.), lines 60-63, to delete the words, "elections to each House of the Oireachtas, elections to local bodies and authorities, registration of voters, maintenance of public roads, and highways."
With the leave of the Dáil I would like to withdraw the first portion of this amendment, as it has been practically disposed of with the last amendment. The object of the latter part is to try to secure the attention of the National Government to the present condition of the roads. I am of the opinion that the local authorities are not in a position to give the attention to the roads warranted at this particular juncture. The roads in this country have been neglected very much during the past five or six years, with the result that the highways are, I daresay, about the worst in the world. All over the world to-day different States are giving this due attention, the attention it warrants in view of the heavy traffic in the way of motor haulage, and my proposal is that this matter should be taken from the local councils altogether and placed under a Ministry of Transport, as is proposed in the Railway Bill. I think everybody will agree that the roads have not got the attention they warrant, and the object of this amendment, as I have said, is to take all extraneous functions from the Local Government Ministry and to make it as much as possible a Ministry of Health. I formally move the amendment.
In view of the Bill brought forward to appoint a Minister for Transport, what will happen to the roads if they were taken from under the control of local authorities, as would be the case if this was expunged.
Read down the amendments. There is a consequential amendment.
If you take the power of maintaining the public roads and highways from the Local Government Department and this Transport Bill of yours does not pass, who will then look after them? That is the point I would like to have cleared up.
Do not imagine impossibilities.
This also, to my mind, raises other difficulties. At present the Minister for Local Government exercises control over the administration of local authorities, and in his capacity as supervisor of roads—I forget the exact term—is entitled to authorise the expenditure of certain moneys on roads. We take him away and we anticipate a larger amount of expenditure on certain roads, and there would be no authority that I know of to deal with the matter should this amendment pass. I have not observed any amendment placing the control under any other department, and then, in the event of the calamity of the failure of this other Bill to pass, as Deputy Wilson suggests, we would be left without any person in control of roads. I am sure the Deputy had not that in mind when he put down this amendment. There was a Ministry of Transport, or a Road Board, or some other organisation like that, but now the Local Government Department has taken over these various boards, which are now comprised in the one term, "Local Government," generally.
I do not know that there has been that opportunity for utilising the services of these institutions to their best. I think that we are on the eve of utilising them to their best, and of getting better value than up to this. It would be unwise now to make another change, at least until an opportunity had been given to the Minister for Local Government for making good, but in any case if it were desirable to take control away from the Local Government you must first make up your minds as to whom it is to be given.
I am sorry to have to point out to the Minister his lack of attention to the Bill of which he is in charge. The same applies to Deputy Wilson. There are provisions in other amendments handing over this particular function of looking after highways and public roads to another Department, and if the Dáil would signify its desire to have that function taken from the Local Government Department, undoubtedly it would be sensible enough to put the work into the hands of somebody else. If the President would look at Amendment 11 he would find that what he thought an oversight has not been an oversight at all. The President has noted that there was a Ministry of Transport, and a Road Board. I think it is rather a pity that the fullest advantage was not taken of extending the functions of that Road Board. The roads are becoming more and more a matter of importance, and less and less are they becoming local, and it was in view of the expressed desire to place administrative affairs on a more scientific foundation than they had been that this attempt was made to put the highways and public roads under the charge of an authority whose function it would be to look after provisions for transport, and take them out of the hands of Local Government. Deputy Wilson has, I think, indicated more than once the difficulties that arise from the use of certain roads under one local authority by conveyances issuing out of another local authority's jurisdiction. We find very many complaints that heavy vehicles belonging to one town or district use roads of another district, and that will continue until you have some co-ordination of responsibility. It was with that desire this amendment was put forward. Whatever objections there may be to the amendment they are not the objections which have been stated.
Might I point out that I think Deputy Johnson is putting the car before the horse. He takes away the authority of the local bodies, and before he sets up another authority he leaves these roads in the charge of nobody. In the proposed Bill of course the authority would be set up, but I maintain he should first have that authority, which he calls Transport and Communications, and then he could transfer, as was intended to be transferred before, their functions, by taking them away from Local Government, and giving them to this body which he proposes to start, but which is not in existence at the moment.
May I point out that the amendment, and the consequential amendment, would not have the effect of removing these roads from their present custodians. The only effect would be that they would remain as at present statutorily administered under the various Local Government Acts, but that the different Ministers would be responsible for those branches of what are now the same system of Local Government. Again, this amendment would merely have the effect of putting two Ministers in charge of what are now under Statute branches of one subject matter, Local Government.
May I point out that this is a matter that possibly ought to get more consideration than it appears to have had. I agree with Deputy Johnson that there are very sound grievances at the moment. In some of the local authorities we have road-ways which are very largely used, and from the traffic on which they derive no benefit at all. These heavy motors pay a motor tax, and under the oldrégime it was under consideration as to whether the main roads would not be taken over and administered by what was called the Road Board, and some of the main roads in Ireland have been so administered. Under the new régime these motor taxes are collected, and I do not know that any body has been set up corresponding with the Road Board. Consequently the heavy maintenance now falling on several of the local authorities will have to be borne by these authorities, and, I think, unfairly borne. It appears to me that this whole question of road transport is one that ought to have the serious consideration of the Government, and some considered proposals should be put before the Dáil with regard to it.
I quite agree with Deputy Good in this matter as to the importance of the maintenance of the main and trunk roads, and that they should be under certain control, but I know of no control under which they can remain but that of the Department of Local Government. That matter is in their hands—the maintenance of these roads as they should be maintained—and the co-ordination that Deputy Johnson looks for can alone be had by the existing authorities, the Local Government Department, using the power which is in their hands to see that the co-ordination takes place, and that those who run the County Councils and the Corporations and Urban Councils should see how they can co-ordinate. I think at present we all see the necessity for an improvement in the roads, but now is not the time when the Local Government Department has framed a scheme dealing with these roads and which aims at seeing that the money expended and labour employed on these roads is done so to the advantage of the ratepayers, in the improvement of these roads and making them suitable for traffic, and place them in a position that those who pay their motor tax will have roads that can carry goods in competition with the railways. To change the authority at present, unless there is some solid reason given, would be a very great mistake.
Amendment put and declared lost.
I beg to propose the following amendment, No. 5:—
"In page 4, line 9, sub-paragraph V. to delete the words "vocational and technical training."
This amendment, together with the consequential amendment No. 9, purports to withdraw technical and vocational training from the Ministry of Education, and give it instead to the Ministry for Industry and Commerce. Technical and vocational training, or technical instruction, as it is known, has never been under the Ministry of Education in the past. It is being transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Education, and I will try to persuade the Government that in making this change it should not be under the Ministry of Education but under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. In spite of the devoted work done by very able men for technical education in this country I do not think that we can say it is in a satisfactory state. I think it was started on wrong lines. About the time the Department of Agriculture was started, Sir Horace Plunkett explained his intention in a reference which I have been unable to trace. As far as I can remember, he wanted every farmer to acquire a sufficient knowledge of carpentry to be able to mend a door or hang a gate. The result is that technical education has largely tended to produce a smattering of knowledge and, when a man has finished his ordinary education, sometimes he went to a technical school to learn to mend a door but more often to learn shorthand and typewriting, to get away from the farm. Some weeks ago the Minister for Agriculture complained that amongst the functions which came under him were the teaching of French, shorthand and typewriting. These are not part of technical education but rather are a part of secondary education. If they are technical education I can quite admit the case for bringing them under the Ministry of Education is a perfect one. To my mind technical education should be something very different from that and instead of following the footsteps of the past the moment has, I think, come to make a very great change because we cannot afford to go on producing elegant accomplishments, which is what most technical schools in this country have been doing. I remember about a dozen years ago—and I do not think the system has changed since—going over a technical school and discovering that for every girl learning cooking nine were learning to draw and shade cones and cylinders. That is a very excellent thing in its way, but why should the State pay for it? I want to make technical education an introduction to industry and as far as possible a branch of industry itself, and I think we should follow the lines adopted in Germany before the war. I am forced to take pre-war conditions because at present you cannot get information from Germany that is not propaganda on one side or the other. Before the war German technical education was very remarkable. Take Chemnitz, an industrial town in Saxony about the size of Cork. It would like to call itself the Manchester of Germany. In Chemnitz there were compulsory continuation schools to which children went from the age of fourteen to seventeen and paid fees. There were two general artisan schools for teaching general trades—one for boys and one for girls. There were trades schools run by trades guilds, and I wish our trades unions would think of taking up something of the same kind. These schools were for tailors, chemists, innkeepers—I do not know if anybody in this country would say that innkeeping is a trade to be taught.
Yes, barbers. Surely nobody would like to be shaved by a barber who does not know his business. Chemnitz is mainly a textile town and a special textile school was established there. In 1900 it had about 60 students. It had an academy which taught chemistry, engineering, and architecture with power to give degrees. It had 404 students. There was also a trade school which taught milling and engineering. The students there were engaged in industry and commerce during the day and went to school at night to try and better their conditions. In this not very large German town, there were three technical schools directly connected with industry, and the working people thought it worth while to pay fees to go to them because the whole object of German technical education was not to train the rank and file, but to train officers. All who were educated there felt that they were qualifying themselves to work upwards. I should like to see something like that in this country, though I admit it would not be easy. It would take a good deal of thought, and would require co-operation between employers and labour so that I do not suppose it would succeed. Take Cork for instance. I believe it has a brewing industry. I should like to see a brewing school there. It has an industry for assembling motor cars, and I think the technical schools there should teach motor engineering in the hope of students turning out some improvements, for even the Ford car is capable of improvement. These are the lines we ought to go on in the future. That is the reason I am putting forward the amendment, and I believe that technical training should belong to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and not to the Ministry of Education where it will become less practical and more academic.
Deputy Cooper has pointed out one of the reasons why technical education has failed in this country. I am sorry, as one who has had a good deal to do with technical education, that I cannot agree with his reasons. The reason that those engaged in technical education assign for its failure, for it has been a failure in Ireland, is the low standard of primary education in Ireland. Owing to this low standard of primary education, boys and girls coming from primary schools are unable to pass the simple qualifying examination for entrance into technical schools. The result is while we have magnificent schools, not alone in the cities but all over Ireland, they are, comparatively speaking, empty. Technical education has been under a separate educational authority in Ireland since its inception. I am quite satisfied if technical education is to attain to that position in this country in the future in which we would all like to see it, it is only by having it and all other departments of education under one authority. I hope the Government will adhere to its proposal to place these different departments of education under one authority.
I think there is very little between Deputy Cooper and Deputy Good. Deputy Cooper would like to see brewing and the technical side of brewing taught in Cork, and also the dyeing industry taught where there is a dyeing industry, and so on. That was not done in the past. There was no attempt whatever to make arrangements for the teaching in technical schools of particular industries to suit particular localities where the teaching of, let us say, special subjects would be appropriate. The reason probably was that there were very few industries, and there was not sufficient demand. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent—even though technical education, like primary, secondary and university education, is controlled and coordinated under the Minister for Education—the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, or, say the Ministry for Agriculture or any other Ministry who wish to develop any special branch of technical education, from making a special grant out of special funds to any technical school to develop that. I think that sort of arrangement is much sounder than to take technical education in bulk and say it shall be controlled by the Ministry for Industry and Commerce. What is technical education? Reading is part of technical education. Writing, arithmetic, algebra, other subjects of that sort are taught and will always be taught in technical schools. French could be taught, shorthand and book-keeping could be taught and will always be taught in technical schools.
What Deputy Cooper wants to provide for is, where there are special industries, and where it is necessary that special technical skill should be acquired for special industries in particular neighbourhoods the particular Ministry interested should be in a position to promote and develop them. In this Bill the Ministry for Industry and Commerce can provide in its estimates for a grant to technical schools somewhere and would be in a position to say to a given technical school: "We will give you so much per annum provided you give so many hours per week to this subject and provided you satisfy us as to the syllabus." That is the point Deputy Cooper makes. In the same way the Minister for Agriculture could say to any of the schools teaching agriculture through the country, and there are a number of them: "We will give you a certain amount of money provided you give a certain course of agriculture in your schools." That is provided for, but because it is necessary to provide for that, and to give a Minister who has an interest in such a subject a chance to develop it, we should not, because of that, hand over technical education as a whole to that Minister. The Minister for Education should control technical education in its proper aspect. There should be ample opportunities for any other Ministry, perhaps even the Ministry for Finance, which may be interested from its own point of view, to develop that in any school anywhere.
To my mind nothing speaks so well as facts in most of those cases. I agree with Deputy Cooper when he said it is a good thing that industry should be taught in technical schools and that facilities should be given for the teaching of particular industries in any district. I venture to suggest that the fault lies greatly with the Committees of Technical Instruction, because I know that the Department are willing to help people to put up workshops of a particular kind suited to a particular locality. I know that in the town I come from they have given a grant to put up a workshop driven by electricity, and all the various machines are there to teach young men what they are supposed to learn in railway work and foundries. I think if the various Committees took up the class of work suitable to the district and asked the Department of Education for grants they would get them. As regards motor engineering, it is only a few days ago since I had an interview with an inspector of the Department, and he was anxious to push the motor business, because, he said, there were a great deal of motor mechanics in that area and he would be prepared to establish a class in connection with the school. I think it is a proper thing to do, but at the same time I believe that the Ministry for Education are the proper people to carry it out. If the other Departments wish to give grants for a special purpose, as Deputy Cooper has said, it is a good idea. The one great drawback, as far as technical schools are concerned, is the want of primary education. My experience is that very few boys and girls who get to 4th and 5th Standard and come to technical schools are fit to absorb what they get. I think if more attention were paid to this class it would be much better for technical education.
I rise to oppose this amendment. It is generally admitted that anyone who has a practical knowledge of educational matters knows that education in this country is at a low ebb. One of the principal reasons for that was the want of co-ordination in the past between the various education departments. Education was run in a series of water-tight departments with no relation whatever between one department and another. The result was that there was overlapping, waste of effort, and, on the whole, not at all the results that should have been obtained under a properly co-ordinated system.
We have heard from Deputy Good a reason for the failure of technical education. I do not admit at all that technical education, even as it has been administered for the past 20 years, is a failure. But I do say that it has not been as successful as it might have been under different circumstances. He rightly suggests that one of the reasons why that is so is that the pupils coming into technical schools have not reached the standard of education that they ought to have reached. I admit that fully and freely, but I want to point out that under the circumstances as they existed it was absolutely impossible that they would have reached that standard. What are the facts? There is no school-leaving standard at the present time. There is no standard which it is necessary that a pupil should reach before he or she leaves the primary school. They can leave when they like. The average school-leaving age is from 9 to 11 years. These pupils leave school, run about for two or three years, and it is only then that they begin to realise that they will want some smattering of education in order to get any employment. Then they turn their attention to the technical schools. They go into the technical schools and learn what they should have learned in the primary schools. That is the position, and it is well that the Deputies should know it. An improvement will not be effected unless there is co-ordination between the various systems—if we can call them systems. I say there should be only one system, and the Minister for Education should be responsible for the whole system of education in the country.
There are other important points. When the course of education in the primary school is completed, the boy has to make up his mind as to what he will do, whether he will go to the Intermediate school and enter a profession or turn his attention to industrial work and go to the technical school. I hold that it is the duty of the Minister for Education to make provision whereby the programmes and curricula of the schools will be so co-ordinated as to enable the pupil to go from one school to the other without a break. Deputy Cooper told us a lot of interesting things about what was done in a certain town in Germany. I was waiting to hear whether or not education in Germany was under the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the Minister for Education. That would be the real point of his statement. I certainly think that if we are to have improvement and progress in education, we must have one Minister and one Department responsible for education in the whole country.
There is no doubt that Deputy O'Connell put his finger on the spot when he said that co-ordination is the one necessity for education in this country. It is not merely a matter of co-ordination in primary, secondary and technical schools—it runs right through up to the University. University professors will tell you that pupils come up to the Universities without having attained a standard that fits them to receive what ought to be University education. And so pupils going to the Universities are receiving what is really no more than a secondary education. Technical schools have had a non-educational authority in Ireland up to the present.
Now it is proposed to put them under an educational head, which will coordinate all the systems of education. In this connection, referring to what the Minister for Agriculture said, I may say that he had been speaking to me earlier with reference to his own Department. The Government is ready to introduce an amendment in reference to his Department—and I think the same would apply to the Department of Industry and Commerce—to permit the promotion in his case of agriculture, or in the case of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, of industry and trade, by way of education. By that means and in that way the point that Deputy Bryan Cooper made will be met.
I am not entirely convinced by the arguments of Deputy Hughes or the other Deputies who have spoken against this amendment. I am not convinced by the argument that because the state of primary education is bad, therefore technical education should be put under the same authority. It seems to me to be almost a paradox. Also, I am a little afraid that the Ministry of Education has so many problems in its own sphere that the transferring of the problem of technical education would be a rather heavy burden to place on its shoulders. I am impressed by the remarks of the Attorney-General, and also by those of the Minister for Agriculture. I think the amendment the Attorney-General is prepared to introduce on Report Stage would improve the Bill. We have had a valuable and useful debate on the subject, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
I would like to impress upon the Government the desirability of avoiding, as far as possible, the creating of a number of small schools. I quite agree with the Minister for Agriculture that if there is no possibility of providing the specialised education in connection with a particular industry in a particular district, then his Department should be given power to set up a special school for the specific purpose in that particular area.
If there should be a technical school in that particular area, and it is capable of adding an additional class and giving that specialised education in that technical school, it ought be done in that way rather than by setting up a series of schools. I think that is the point we should be careful to avoid, and we should aim at concentrating rather than segregating.
That was exactly the idea, and that was the idea to which the amendment will give expression.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move:
"In sub-paragraph (v.), line 9, after the words `technical training,' to insert the words `other than scientific and technical research in relation to economic development.' "
There is a question as to the intention of the Ministry in regard to this. I suggest it should be research, with a definite scientific purpose, a technological purpose. It may be undesirable that definite research work of that kind should be retained by the Ministry of Education.
I can understand, for instance, that the Minister for Agriculture would require to have authority over definite research work in reference to agriculture, as the Minister for Industry and Commerce should have responsibility for definite research work in relation to technology. There does not seem to be any department within this scheme actively interested in research, and I think it will be generally accepted that industrial development and, perhaps, agricultural development depend as much upon the research student as upon any other single factor.
Schedule 4 of this Bill places the Geological Survey under the Minister for Education. I do not know what the Survey comprises, but if it is confined to land in connection with agriculture, it should be under the administration of the Minister for Agriculture. The College of Science is used largely for definite and positive research. Inasmuch as it is mainly used for educational purposes, it should be under the Ministry of Education. But there are other operations possible in connection with it which should, I think, be under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture or the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. The object of the amendment is to ensure that that kind of inquiry should be definitely dissociated from the Ministry of Education.
I hope this amendment will not be accepted. Even so far as technical research is concerned, it seems to me that the greatest hope lies in research conducted under the ægis of the Universities, rather than under the ægis of the Government. I do not think that we need to look long back into the history of other Governments—we have not a long history of our own to look back to—to find that the needs of research have not been attended to by these Governments and are not likely to be attended to by Governments, who have many other things claiming their attention. It seems to me that the hope of research, whether purely scientific or technical, lies in higher education and in the use of the laboratories connected with the Universities. I hope the amendment moved by Deputy Johnson with, I am sure, the best intentions, will not be accepted.
While speaking, I would like to mention a point in connection with this Sub-section, and to raise a question for the consideration of the Government. It may be argued that the wording of the Section goes further than is intended by the Government and leaves it open to some future Government to say that University Education has, through this Sub-section, lost that autonomy which, I am sure, the present Government does not wish to take from it. It would seem to place University education on the same basis as the other systems of education. I would ask the Attorney-General if he could not, on Report Stage, put in some words safeguarding University interests in that respect, and thereby remove the fears of those who, I think, reasonably regard the wording of the Section as ambiguous.
As regards the last point, the position in connection with the Universities is that they are corporations under Charter and are self-governing units. It is not proposed by the Bill to touch their autonomy or their educational or chartered position. If there is any doubt about that, the matter can be made right by a small amendment on the Report Stage. The Section is rather directed to another aspect of the question. Apart from the existing, permanent revenues of the Universities, if public moneys are to be granted them, that should be done upon the recommendation of the Minister for Education, and on his satisfying the Minister for Finance and the Executive Council that the grant should be made. Otherwise it is not proposed to touch the Charters of the Universities.
As regards Deputy Johnson's point, the amendment the Attorney-General mentioned in connection with the last amendment moved by Deputy Major Cooper, will, I think, cover the matter he has in mind. The Dáil has to remember that the most important schools of the country—primary, secondary, technical and university—will not be controlled by the State at all. This Bill only deals with education and only controls education for which money is paid out of the taxes. If Deputy Johnson's amendment were inserted in this Section, it is quite possible that it would not be competent for the Minister for Education, or any other Minister, to make grants in connection with scientific and technical research in relation to economic development. Deputy Johnson will agree that if the Minister for Industry and Commerce be in a position to encourage scientific and technical research in relation to economic development, the Minister for Education and other Ministers should be also in that position. I think the amendment which the Attorney-General indicated in regard to Deputy Major Cooper's point will meet the case.
The arguments of the Minister are, I think, sound. The object of this amendment was rather to leave it as a possibility for the Ministry of Agriculture or of Education or of Commerce, if funds were available, to do something positive for economic development in a specific line, which might not seem to be quite educational work. I realise that the effect of the amendment would be, perhaps, to deprive the Minister for Education of certain rights which I would like him to have. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move: "In sub-paragraph (vii.), line 38, to delete the word `transport.' "
The powers and responsibilities of this Ministry, as detailed in Clause 7 of this Bill, and also in the Schedule, show quite clearly that it is already overburdened. It can be seen from the Schedule that the Ministry is really a combination of the Board of Trade, under the old regime, and the Ministry of Labour. If the Minister and his advisers were in a position to give that thought and consideration to the problem of unemployment which is requisite, they would have, in view of existing conditions, a job that would be quite sufficient to keep them going for the next twelve months. The functions of the Ministry are extraordinarily comprehensive and varied.
It is improbable, especially in view of the declarations that have been made by the Government that there is going to be a greater amount of Governmental control for the Irish Railways or the Railways in the Free State, that the Ministry will be able to give the attention in the future to the question of Transport that they are able to give at the present time. There is a case as a matter of fact for a separate Transport Ministry quite apart from the Transport and Communications Bill. Whatever the fate of that Bill may be, if we believe the statements that have been made in this Dáil with regard to Government policy, and with regard to the future of the Railways, then I think that that aspect of the problem dealing with Railway, Canal and Road Transport should be dealt with by a separate Ministry.
The Transport and Communications Bill does not add to the number of Ministers already in existence, but I think the amendment might be acceptable to the Government in view of their own declarations. I therefore move the amendment.
The desire of the Deputy appears to be to create an additional Ministry.
I distinctly stated that was not the position.
That was the deduction that I naturally, and I think most Deputies, drew from the Deputy's speech. The time has not yet arrived for a separate Minister for Transport. The Executive Government have not absolutely decided what they are going to do in regard to the railways. If they propose taking over the railways, then one could understand the necessity for creating a separate Ministry of Transport, but under existing circumstances all the arguments that were used this evening against a Ministry for Foreign Affairs could be used with much greater force against the proposed Ministry that would result if the Dáil were to fall in with the views that Deputy Davin has given expression to. Transport, in so far as it will be dealt with under existing conditions by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, will be a relatively small matter. Railway transport is at present in the hands of several companies. In all probability the same control will continue to be in operation, though the number of companies will probably disappear, and you will have one or two companies functioning as regards the control of the railways generally in Ireland. In these conditions I think there is no necessity for giving effect to the amendment that has been moved by Deputy Davin. We have not yet reached the time at which it is desirable that there should be a separate Ministry of Transport. On the Bill to which he is to speak this evening I am sure Deputy Johnson will air his views at length and effectively, and that will be the time, I should say, when the decision reached on that Bill will determine whether the necessity for having a Ministry of Transport will arise in the near future.
Might I suggest that this is one of a series of trial gallops in preparation for the great race which is to be run at 7 o'clock this evening, and that as it stands by itself, with this consequential amendment, the only effect of it would be to transfer Transport to the Postmaster-General and call him Transport.
I think the Attorney-General has discovered the real point at issue in this matter. In the first place, as I understand, the proposal in this consequential amendment is to make the Postmaster-General Minister of Transport and Communications, and, I suppose, of the Post Office, because, as far as I can see, it is not intended to take away the Post Office, but to change the name so that the Post Office should be administered by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and that there should be no mention whatever of that very important service in which the Postmaster-General has distinguished himself during the last eighteen months or two years. I regret that I was absent from the Dáil when the Deputy was making his case for this particular change, but it appears to me that Industry and Commerce, as a Ministry, has had now a very considerable experience of these particular activities, including railways. While Deputy O'Mahony is quite correct in saying that the Government has not a policy, he is correct to this extent that the Government has not disclosed its policy.
Even to its own supporters?
I am sure Deputies would not wish to hasten unduly the bringing forward of proposals for dealing with such a very important matter. I am not at all satisfied that the Postmaster-General himself has a particular appetite for extending his activities in this direction, and I am not satisfied either that a case has been made to discount the work that has been done by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in respect of these particular services.
I do not know that the amendment could be accepted by us; in fact it could scarcely be accepted by us, in view of the fact that a very important event is to take place at 7 o'clock this evening, and we would, to some extent, anticipate the discussions upon that very important measure if we were to give any consideration just now to the acceptance of this amendment.
During recent months, and, indeed, for many months past, I have had considerable experience myself of this very intricate service, and I am of opinion that it would be very unwise at present to change the administration of these services from one Minister to another. I have no doubt whatever but that the Postmaster-General is a very able and competent Minister, but I do say that he has a very large establishment to administer, and that it is quite large enough to tax the energies of even a very capable Minister like himself, and that there are opportunities, very big opportunities, I should say, for effecting some improvements even in that service. I should say, in common with other Deputies in the Dáil, that I admit the great improvements the Postmaster-General has effected already in that service. To bring now under his administration another service, and a very different service to the one that he has, would be certainly unduly to tax his ability.
I was sorry to hear Deputy O'Mahony say that the Government had not any mind on this question of transport, but I am glad that the President has corrected that by saying that they have not disclosed their decisions, and in connection with the important matters to be raised by Deputy Johnson's Bill, I think that is a wise course for the Government to take. I think that the Section as it stands should remain, including the word "Transport," so as not to confuse the issue.
Amendment put and negatived.
Amendment No. 8, in my name, is consequential on the last amendment, so I do not move it.
The same applies to amendment No. 9.
I beg to move amendment No. 10: To delete sub-paragraph (viii.). On the Second Reading I dealt with the question of this Department existing as a separate Ministry, and I should say, in moving this amendment now, that it does not mean that the Department of Fisheries as a separate Department should cease to exist, although I urge that it might be split up and made a sub-department of other departments, but that does not necessarily follow. The purpose of this amendment is to remove it as delineating apart for a separate existing Ministry in order that on the next reading the opportunity may be furnished for re-dividing the services enumerated in it amongst certain other Ministries. I stated, on Second Reading, and I repeat it, that if we were in the position to do so, the Department of Fisheries might be made one of the most important Departments of the State. It might be raised, if moneys were available to be allocated to it, into a position of such great importance that it would then justify the allocation to it of a separate Minister. I am now putting forward this amendment, not because I do not think the Department should be kept alive in view of that possibility of the future, but because there is no means at the present moment to make this Department of Fisheries a live department, to re-organise the whole of the national fisheries as they require to be re-organised, and particularly to organise export markets and home markets in the way in which they ought to be organised, so that I think that for the immediate purpose of this Bill the Department of Fisheries should be allocated elsewhere to another Ministry and not exist as a separate and distinct Department. Now, I am met already by the argument raised in one or two places that it lies within the functions of the Executive Council in this Bill to say that one Minister shall discharge two or three of these Departments. That, of course, is perfectly true; that is the text of the measure, but I imagine that it would be conceded that by setting up these departments under separate heads, and calling each a Department in the official language in which the word Department is used in the Constitution, the way is paved for the creation of separate Ministries as well as separate Departments.
It is a fact that the Ministers that exist at the present moment are the Ministers that exactly, in number and in function, agree with the Departments set out here in Section 1. I urge at the present moment that while the Department of Fisheries should be continued there is no need for a separate Minister for Fisheries. Therefore, the whole of the services as enumerated in this Sub-section should be removed from the separate Ministry mentioned and should be placed over in the charge of other Departments. And when that is being done I think a little previous examination might be desirable. I believe it is right that sea fisheries should not be allocated to the Department of Agriculture, and I would like in that regard to see the whole of that branch of this nation's service, depending, as it very largely does, on the organisation of export markets, taken over by Industry and Commerce. I do not stipulate for that, but I throw it out as a suggestion. But I do urge that because they both happen to be called Fisheries there is no necessary connection between the administration of Inland Fisheries and Sea Fisheries. I think that the administration of Inland Fisheries should continue to be exercised by the Minister for Agriculture because they naturally arise out of the operations of the Land Act; but the main question that I am placing here is this. This Sub-section should be deleted because there is no room and no time, and there is no money for a separate Minister of Fisheries, and, therefore, in this Bill the whole of this Section should be removed and the duties and services of this Department that exists, and will continue to exist, should be attached to the service of other Departments.
There is only one further matter that I want to deal with, and that is in reference to the argument put forward by the Minister for Agriculture himself on Second Reading. He spoke of this Bill as being a permanent measure. I think that the allocation of different services cannot be regarded as in any sense permanent. Different allocations are bound to be made as experience goes forward in the future. All that this Bill really can be said to achieve is, for immediate and for present purposes, until the necessity for change should be evident when certain departments should be so separated as to make room, and give justification for, the creation of Ministers in respect of them, and it is because of that conviction that I urge that Sub-section (8) should be removed and that the Ministry at the next opportunity should reapportion those services amongst other Departments, so saving the creation of this separate Ministry.
In dealing with this amendment I should like to say, in the first place, as Deputy Figgis will admit, there is no such thing as a permanent Bill with a sovereign Parliament. Undoubtedly although this is not, on the face of it, a temporary measure nor were a number of other measures, still as things grow and develop, amending Bills will be passed, reorganisations made and subsequently, perhaps, a Consolidation Bill of a more permanent character devised. This is a Bill which organises the Departments of the State as they now stand, and puts them into their natural divisions, and Deputy Figgis answers that by saying that his amendment does not mean that the Department of Fisheries should cease to exist. Now the deletion which he proposes, I am afraid, would have that effect, whereas what he is really driving at is that there should not be a separate Minister at the head of this Department, but that the Fisheries Department should be assigned with some other Department to an individual Minister. I suggest that this is the wrong time to make that case. The time for making that case is at the creation of Ministries.
Deputy Figgis has stated that under the Bill one or two Departments may be combined by Executive Ministers. The position is that these great Departments of State may be combined by the Dáil when the Dáil is electing its Ministry.
The Attorney-General, I think, was near the precincts of this House when the Ministers were created. We had not at that particular moment the honour of his presence on the benches themselves, but he may remember that when this question of the creation of a Minister was raised by three or four Deputies we were referred then to the introduction of this Bill.
I am afraid there must be some loose thinking somewhere. Ministers are elected under the Constitution. Under this Bill particular Departments of administration will be assigned to them. At the beginning of a new Ministry the President is elected by the Dáil. He proposes to the Dáil that he will appoint so many Ministers and assign them so many of the Departments of State. He may combine two or three under a particular Minister and the Dáil may not approve. The Dáil may refuse to approve of his nomination for that reason. Again, he decides to leave certain Departments of State as at present, as the President did at the commencement of this Dáil, outside the Executive Council. It would have been open then, for instance, as Fisheries and Agriculture were left by the President outside his nominations, for the Dáil to have combined Agriculture and Fisheries as two Departments in the same Ministry. The point I am making now is that this is not the time to raise this question. This question becomes appropriate at the creation of a particular Ministry. This Bill is not concerned with that particular matter. It is concerned simply with putting on paper, under headings, the various Departments of State—the natural divisions of administration. When the next Ministry comes to be chosen, then Deputy Figgis can romp home with his proposition about combining them, if the President of that day should not himself take the initiative in doing that.
The question at issue seems to be not whether or not we should have a particular Minister or a special Minister for Fisheries, but whether or not we should have a Department of Fisheries. I am strongly in favour of retaining the Department of Fisheries, inasmuch as I believe that the fishing industry is one of the most important that we have, next indeed to the agricultural industry itself. It is capable of even more development at the moment than the agricultural industry; at least there is more room for improvement there, seeing that practically nothing has been done during the last 20 years or so. I will, therefore, oppose the amendment, because I believe that the fishing industry is of such importance, and can be of such vital importance to the country, that it is essential that a special Department should be devoted to its administration and development.
I would like to clear away from Deputy O'Connell's mind any misconception he may have—I doubt if he had any—as to my disagreement with anything that he has said. I have stated, and I repeat, that I believe that if there was finance available to vote for the creation of a proper Ministry of Fisheries it might prove to be one of the most lucrative things that this country has done. I believe our fisheries are probably our greatest natural resource. It is a fact that at the present moment there is not that finance available. Whether that finance be available or not, it is surely obvious to everyone that that money will not be voted during the next financial year, and it is hardly likely to be voted in the financial year after the next. In view of that you have got merely the maintenance of an existing Department, without the inauguration of new policies, without the finance appropriate to the inauguration of this policy, without any chance of extension or expansion, without any opportunities for the organisation of markets. These things all cost money, and the money will not be available. Under the circumstances I argue that the Department should not exist as a separate Department, but that it should be put in with some other Department and administered by the Minister for that Department. I appreciate the strength of the argument of the Attorney-General when he says that this was not the proper time. I have all the greater reason for agreeing with the Attorney-General because I raised that very question when this matter was brought forward in the Dáil on an earlier occasion. I thought that was the right time and not this. But we were referred then to this occasion. We were told when we raised the question, as to whether a Minister for Fisheries should or should not be appointed, that that was not the time to consider it and that it ought to be postponed until the Ministers Bill came on, when we could raise the question as to whether there should or should not be a Ministry of Fisheries. I think the Attorney-General is right and that those who raised the question on an earlier occasion were right. We and he are in agreement on that matter, but seeing that that assurance was given that we could raise the question now and not then we have raised it now. I appreciate all that Deputy O'Connell has said as to the necessity for a proper Department of Fisheries with a Minister giving the whole of his time to it, when there would be enough finance brought into that Department to make it a living Department. But there is not the finance. There will be merely the continuation of the normal automatic functions of this Department until some time we hope in the very near future. During that intervening period this Department of Fisheries should not exist as a Department in the separate sense that it will be entitled to a Minister, but it should be included in this Bill with the services of another Department. It will be argued that because this Bill has set down in the Sub-sections of Section 1 certain separate Departments that each of these Departments will be Departments in the sense of the Constitution carrying separate Ministers.
Deputy Figgis has just announced that he is not open to argument. I had thought so.
He evidently took advice which he should not take. He should not take advice slavishly. He ought to be well able to look after himself. He should have made his point on the last occasion and not now say that he did what he was told. The point is that a Ministry of Fisheries, according to Deputy Figgis, will be required later on, but that we have not enough of money to run this sort of ambitious Ministry of Fisheries that we would like to run at the present moment. His proposal is that because we cannot do that thing now we should not establish the machinery that enables it to be done later on when we have money.
That is the sort of muddle-headedness—I do not know whether it is deliberate muddle-headedness—that Deputy Figgis has been the victim of since this Bill was introduced. This Bill does not aim at providing machinery for the situation that exists on the 5th December at five minutes to 7 o'clock. It aims at providing the machinery of Government for the next 20, 30 or 40 years.
That does not mean to say that we will not have to improve and amend it. At this stage at least we ought to know what we are aiming at. We are aiming to provide machinery of government for the future, and any argument that it is not appropriate at the moment, while admitting that it may be appropriate in a year or two, is simply giving away the whole case. It is common ground at least that in two or three years a very ambitious and a very costly, if you like, Ministry of Fisheries would justify itself. That is a common case. We are providing machinery here that would enable us in two or three years to do that. Deputy Figgis' amendment would mean that if in two or three years we wish to add a Ministry of Fisheries we would have to have a special Bill for it. If that is sound as far as Fisheries are concerned, why not apply it to every other provision of the Bill? The Deputy did not give the question any thought, and that is shown by the fact that he has not made a single suggestion as to what Ministry it should be attached to. It may be that I did not hear him.
The Minister has suggested that I am guilty of muddle-headedness.
If the Deputy had an explanation to make——
resumed the Chair at this Stage.
I will not charge the Minister with that, but I will say that he has addressed the Dáil as if it was a Petty Sessions Court.
That is not a point of order or an explanation.
In moving the amendment I gave a definite contribution, and made the point that the Minister is now raising, before the Minister came into the Dáil.
I listened to the Deputy stating expressly before he sat down that he did not propose to say what Ministry it should be attached to. It may be that, before I came to the Dáil, he suggested some Ministry. He certainly said before he sat down that he would not give the Dáil the benefit of his view as to what Ministry it should be attached to. I suggest that he should begin to think about that question. If he did, he might find reasons for establishing a separate Ministry of Fisheries more cogent than he thinks. The fact of the matter is, and you have got to realise it, there is a special problem in this country, and that is the problem of the congested districts. I think experience will show that you will require something like a Minister for the congested districts to deal with services that are peculiar to the congested districts, and that are not common to the congested districts and the other districts, such as land purchase. That is the reason why I am advocating that there should be a separate Ministry of Fisheries, and that the same Minister should deal with rural industries. We have the machinery in the Bill for the future developments which, I suggest to the Dáil, experience will show is necessary in that direction.
I think both the Minister for Agriculture and Deputy Figgis have been wasting time.
Deputy McBride is in a very fortunate position. He has only one minute to waste.
I was the first to object to the establishment of a Ministry of Fisheries, but the Dáil has already decided that one should be established. Having so decided, I do not think the Dáil can go back on that decision.
I move to report progress.
Progress reported; Committee Stage to be resumed to-morrow.