SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - MINISTERS AND SECRETARIES BILL, 1923—FIFTH STAGE.

Question proposed—"That the Ministers and Secretaries Bill be received for final consideration and do now pass."

With the indulgence of the Seanad I would like to say certain things that, properly speaking, I should have said on the Second Reading, but which I did not say for reasons which I will explain presently. At various periods during the last six months some persons interested in the National Gallery and the School of Art urged upon Ministers the desirability of placing the Museum, the National Gallery and the School of Art under the Ministry of Education. When this Bill came to the Seanad I saw with great satisfaction that these institutions were placed under the Ministry of Education. After the Second Reading I read the Bill with more attention, and I found that the Government possesses the right to transfer any particular institution to any particular Ministry it likes. That fills me with alarm. It is, no doubt, quite right that the Government should have such power, but I will take this opportunity of saying that I hope the Government will not transfer these particular institutions to any Ministry except the Ministry of Education, without consulting these bodies.

A number of us went on a deputation to one of the Ministers about five months ago. I have been trying to remember for the last half hour what Minister. I think it was the Minister for Industry and Commerce, but I cannot remember. The deputation laid before the Minister a very strong case, I think, to have these institutions included under the Ministry of Education. I would like to touch lightly on that now, because if the Government decide to transfer these institutions to some other branch nothing will be done but to lay on the Table of the Seanad certain papers announcing the fact. I may be away and may not see them, and other members of these bodies may know nothing about the matter. It is very important for the future industrial prosperity of this country that Art teaching should be brought into relationship to industry. That can only be done by some unified system of teaching which will include such institutions as the School of Art and the schools of the country. In the newer Universities in Germany and in Scandinavia they have professors of the arts for purely industrial reasons. They have found it essential in order to hold their own in the manufactory of the world that they should teach certain principles of good taste in order that their various forms of manufacture may possess good taste.

I begin with an example of what I hope may happen in this country. I understand that the Ministry of Education will form in the immediate future a Technical Board. One of the things that might very well come before that Technical Board for consideration is the lace industry of Ireland. If you go back a few years you will find that Ireland had an exceedingly prosperous lace industry, which employed a large number of people. That lace industry has lost its market to a very great extent, party through the hasty production of good old designs—the rough and ready manufacture at a quick rate of good old designs—and partly through the equally hasty production of exceedingly bad modern designs. For instance, I understand that in some cases 3s. 6d. would be given for a design to some student. That is about the same amount as the Free State Government thinks it necessary, I understand, to give for a design for a postage stamp. It would be possible for the Technical Board of the Ministry of Education to obtain from Austria or Sweden a teacher of lace-making, one with the highest possible accomplishments in the art, so that the industry might be restored to prosperity. Such a teacher would be employed in two ways, going to the country to inspect, and teaching at the School of Art. You have another example of the effect of teaching in the School of Art on the industries of this country. About twenty years ago, and I had a little to do with it, a teacher of stained glass was brought from England and employed in the Dublin School of Art. That teacher was brought chiefly through the efforts of Miss Purser. The manufacture of stained glass in Ireland was then the worst in the world. Now, some of the very best stained glass in the world is made here. One of the makers of the worst stained glass in the world twenty years ago was a man named Clarke. The maker of some of the best stained glass in the world to-day is his son. These are unusual topics to raise in the Seanad.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I was about to intervene and say that myself, although I am very loth to curtail you as you are very interesting. What has this to do with the Ministers and Secretaries Bill?

I want the Government to keep Art teaching under the Ministry of Education in order that a unified system of Art teaching may arise in this country associated with education, so as to help manufactures. The deputation to the Minister was told that the argument against having the art institutions under the Ministry of Education was that they might be subordinate to a purely mechanical system of teaching, and thereby suffer as art institutions—I think that is very unlikely under the present Minister. That argument was put strongly. I beg the Government if they detach these institutions from the Ministry of Education, not to give them to any other Ministry, but to give them a Ministry of their own. The Arts in Ireland have suffered for several generations from having been under the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture had no policy in connection with them except a deadly one. When Sir Hugh Lane, for instance, was rejected when he applied for the position of head of the Museum in Dublin—the one great connoisseur we had—he was rejected on grounds which had nothing whatever to do with the Arts, but which were simply matters of policy of that Department. When the Department was remonstrated with, an official used this argument: "The time has not come to encourage the Arts in Ireland." If you place these particular institutions under any Ministry except the Ministry of Education or under a Ministry of their own, you will find that the time has not come to encourage the Arts in Ireland.

Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.