POLICY OF THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION. - MOTION BY THE PRESIDENT (RESUMED).

"That the Dáil approves of the policy of the Minister for Education."

Is there consent to have this motion altered?

I desire to draw attention to what I think is a doubtful reading by the Minister for Justice of the position as to the tendering of his resignation by a Minister of his Office, and the acceptance of it by the Executive Council. There is an interregnum between the acceptance of the resignation and the appointment of the new Minister, and I would like to have some definite understanding, if it were possible, on that point. I understood that no matter what resignations there might be, the office would still continue, and that someone would hold it in trust or otherwise. I read in the Ministers and Secretaries Act that the Department of Education shall comprise so and so, and that the head of it shall be styled the Minister. Now, if there is a Department of Education there must necessarily be a head of that Department, and that is the Minister. I think we ought to understand that, no matter who individually may have given up the office of Minister, until a successor is appointed the office remains in somebody's care, even if it be only the care of the President of the Executive Council. There is a continuing head of the Department, and that is the Minister. I make the point because I think there may be misapprehension, and that it might cause difficulty at some future time if we ran away with the assumption that because the Minister has resigned in one, two, or three offices, there is no longer a head of these Departments.

This is really a constitutional point, but it is quite clear that the Executive Council has vested in it the headship of all Departments for which the Executive Council is collectively responsible. The difficulty about this particular motion is, whether there is an individual person at the moment Minister for Education. At any rate, the person to whom this particular motion applies is certainly no longer the Minister for Education. The form it is now suggested the motion should take is: "That the Dáil approves of the policy of the Executive Council in the matter of Education." Is that suitable to the Vice-President?

Yes, or it might read: "The education policy of the Executive Council."

Is there leave given to amend the motion on the paper to read "That the Dáil approves of the education policy of the Executive Council"?

Would it not be simpler, and be keeping nearer to the motion on the paper, to say that the Dáil approves of the policy of the Ministry of Education?

Has the Department a policy from our point of view? I think not. I think that form would be very dangerous from the point of view of this House, because it is the Minister who is responsible to this House, and, ultimately, if responsibility for the Minister of Education has to be brought to somebody it could be brought this evening to the Vice-President if necessary, as being the head of the Executive Council here at the moment. But I think we could not undertake at all to condemn the policy of a Department or to approve of it.

When you put it that way, it means a Department through its head. I see the technical difficulty and I do not press the point.

On a point of order, may I suggest that this is substantially a new motion unless it were proved to the satisfaction of the House that the policy of the Ministry of Education is the policy of the Executive Council. I, therefore, take the liberty of suggesting that the motion should read: That the House approves of the education policy unfolded or expounded by the Minister for Education on such a date.

No, that will not do. If the House would agree, I would suggest an amendment in these terms: That the House approves of the policy and practice of the Ministry of Education during the last two years. I would agree to that. It is tantamount to what the President proposes.

Do I take it that Deputy Professor Magennis is withholding his consent from the alteration in the motion in the way proposed?

Yes, I think it is unsatisfactory, because we will have to begin all over again.

Does not the original motion hold good and express itself sufficiently for the date on which it was brought forward? I do not think it need be taken into account that circumstances have changed since then, or that the circumstances that have occurred since then prevent opinion being expressed on the motion as it came before us.

If an opinion is expressed to-day it is for to-day: for the circumstances that are in existence to-day. We reach our decision to-day or to-morrow, and we do not take any notice of when the motion was proposed.

I would point out that the policy of the Ministry of Education is only known to us by its practice and that it is that we are voting upon.

May I point out, with all respect, in reference to the last statement from the Chair, that the policy unfolded by the Minister for Education has reference to the future. It was a policy, the main aim of which was to make the Irish people Irish.

I do not want to indulge in a kind of question and answer from the Chair. Deputy Magennis's statement has no reference to the last statement I made. My statement was, that if we approve of the policy of the Minister for Education to-day, we approve of it for to-day and without taking any notice of the date on which the motion was proposed. That seems to me to be common sense.

Would you accept an amendment that the Dáil approves of the policy of the late Minister for Education?

Surely that is what is before the House: whether we approve of the policy of Irish education which was expounded as his policy of education by the Minister for Education. That is really the original motion.

I protest. That is not the issue at all. The issue was not the aim and the end of the Education Department, but the policy as expounded in the practice of the last two years, and I think it should not be allowed to go that we are dealing with the aim and purpose of the Ministry of Education in regard to the development of the Irish people, but with the policy as expounded through the practice of the Department during the last two years.

I have been accused of being a metaphysician. I think really we are in metaphysics at the present time. I suggest that we can all quite well understand that by voting on the resolution that is before us we are voting on and as a consequence of discussions which took place, and that we are bringing that discussion to a termination. I do not think that the fact that the wording of the motion at this moment does not apply to the circumstances of this moment need necessarily prevent us from taking a vote, or that any possible confusion would arise as to the meaning of such a vote.

I would like to ask what is the real objection to the amended motion? I would like to know from those who are so opposed to it what is their objection to it?

The wording of it.

After all, if the wording is the cause, are we not trying to put the responsibility on the Executive Council for the educational policy pursued by the late Minister, and are we not finding fault with what is really the case, because are not the members of the Executive Council a party to it? Do they not proclaim that they are still a party to it, and that they are going to continue it under the next Minister? Can we not say whether we are satisfied with that or not?

Article 53 of the Constitution reads: "The President of the Council shall be appointed on the nomination of Dáil Eireann. He shall nominate a Vice-President of the Council who shall act for all purposes in the place of the President, if the President shall die, resign or be permanently incapacitated, until a new President of the Council shall have been elected. The Vice-President shall also act in the place of the President during his temporary absence."

Acting in the place of the President during his temporary absence, I would be prepared to nominate myself to the Dáil as Minister for Education, and in the event of the Dáil approving of that nomination, I would make a brief statement adopting the policy of the late Minister for Education.

I would be prepared to accept, on the grounds of urgency, the Vice-President's nomination of himself to the office of Minister for Education if there is no objection taken.

May we discuss that?

I do not see any reason why the first suggested amendment put forward by the Vice-President should not stand. There is no doubt the Executive Council was as responsible as the Minister for Education himself for policy.

There is no doubt that the policy of an Executive Minister is the policy of the Executive Council. The result of an adverse vote on the original motion by the President would be identical—I do not say what that result would be— with the result of an adverse vote on the amended motion now suggested approving of the education policy of the Executive Council. If this amended motion were defeated it would apply to the whole Executive Council. If the Vice-President, speaking for the Executive Council, is prepared to put the motion in this form, which is a proper form, it gets over all difficulties and it satisfies me completely from the point of view of order in which I am interested.

Motion altered, by leave, as follows:

"That the Dáil approves of the education policy of the Executive Council."

Motion, as amended, put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 53; Níl, 23.

  • Pádraig Baxter.
  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Thomas Bolger.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Próinsias Bulfin.
  • Séamus de Burca.
  • John Conlan.
  • Louis J. D'Alton.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileain Bean
  • Uí Dhrisceóil.
  • Michael Egan.
  • Patrick J. Egan.
  • Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • John Hennigan.
  • Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Eoin Mac Néill.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
  • Patrick J. Mulvany.
  • Martin M. Nally.
  • John T. Nolan.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Micheál O hAonghusa.
  • Criostóir O Broin.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Risteárd O Conaill.
  • Parthalán O Conchubhair.
  • Conchubhar O Conghaile.
  • Máirtín O Conalláin.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Mícheál O Dubhghaill.
  • Peadar O Dubhghaill.
  • Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
  • Eamon O Dúgáin.
  • Seán O Duinnín.
  • Séamus O Leadáin.
  • Fionáin O Loingsigh.
  • Pádraic O Máille.
  • Risteárd O Maolchatha.
  • Domhnall O Mocháin.
  • Séamus O Murchadha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Gaillimh).
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Luimneach).
  • Seán O Raghaillaigh.
  • Máirtín O Rodaigh.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
  • Caoimhghín O hUigín.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.

Níl

  • Earnán Altún.
  • Richard H. Beamish.
  • Seán Buitléir.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • John J. Cole.
  • Bryan R. Cooper.
  • Sir James Craig.
  • Séamus Eabhróid.
  • John Good.
  • David Hall.
  • William Hewat.
  • Connor Hogan.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • James Sproule Myles.
  • Ailfrid O Broin.
  • Tomás O Conaill.
  • Eamon O Dubhghaill.
  • Donnchadh O Guaire.
  • Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
  • Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
  • William A. Redmond.
  • Liam Thrift.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Dolan and Sears; Níl, Deputies T.J. O'Connell and Connor Hogan.
Motion declared carried.