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Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, 1966: Second Stage (Resumed).

Tuesday, 28 June 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 223 No. 9

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Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time”.

Debate resumed on the following amendment:

To delete all words after “That” and substitute “Dáil Éireann refuses to give a Second Reading to the Bill until the Government provide for the amalgamation of at least two existing Departments, so that by the appointment of a Minister for Labour an extra Minister will not be required.”—(Deputy Cosgrave.)

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave Zoom on Liam Cosgrave It seems to me that there are two distinct questions involved in the establishment of this new Ministry. There is, first of all, the decision to establish a new Department of Labour and with that particular proposal we have expressed agreement. There is the question of whether the Government or the country are justified [1384] in continuing all the existing Departments as separate Departments with separate Ministers. I propose, first of all, to deal with that aspect, and then to deal with certain other matters connected with the work which the new Department might perform.

When speaking here last week, the Taoiseach gave certain figures for the number of Ministers in certain European countries and sought to imply that the fact that a number of other countries had in some cases slightly larger Cabinets was a justification for this country increasing the number of Ministers. I expressed the view at that time that in all these cases, so far as my knowledge went, the population of the countries concerned was larger than the population here, and that the general tendency in many of these countries was a rising population.

Since then, I have had an opportunity of checking the figures for a number of European countries, and the facts are somewhat different from those which were presented here, when we take into account the number of Ministers and the population. Austria has a Cabinet of 12 and a population of seven million. Belgium has a Cabinet of 20 and a population of 9¼ million. Denmark has a Cabinet of 18 and a population of 4½ million. Finland has a Cabinet of 11 and a population of 4½ million. The Netherlands has a Cabinet of 14 and a population of 12 million. Norway has a Cabinet of 14 and a population of 3½ million. Switzerland has a Cabinet of nine and a population of 5½ million.

Those particular countries, by and large, have Governments of approximately the same size as we have; others are either the same size or less, but it is notable in each case that the population is higher than it is in this country. Even for the lowest, Norway, the population is 3½ million, with a Cabinet of 14. In all the other cases, the population is at least 1½ million more and in some cases it is twice, three times or four times the population of this country.

If we take even bigger countries with much larger populations, we find in France a Cabinet of 21 and a population [1385] of 46½ million, in the Federal Republic of Germany, a Cabinet of 22 and a population of 57½ million, and in Italy a Cabinet of 26 and a population of 50½ million. So the suggestion that by the standards of other countries our Government are numerically small is not borne out by the facts. The facts show that with two exceptions, in all the small countries in Europe the Cabinets are either the same size as or a good deal smaller than the Cabinet here, although the population in each case is substantially higher. The two exceptions are Belgium with a population 9¼ million and Denmark with a population of 4½ million. It is a mistaken philosophy when faced with difficulties for the Government, of necessity, merely to create new jobs, not new jobs for the people but new jobs for Fianna Fáil Deputies.

This proposal, if it is to be considered, must be considered in the light of the present situation. The present situation is that the number of new jobs provided has not merely fallen short of the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. In actual fact, the published figures show that there are now 10,000 fewer people in employment than was the case when the Government assumed office and, in fact, before either the First or the Second Programme was put into operation. With the exception of a very slight rise in certain categories in industrial employment, the general trend in the numbers employed has shown a drop and, of course, a very substantial drop in respect of those employed in agriculture.

This proposal by the Government is merely to establish a separate Department without, as the Taoiseach said, any change in policy or change in attitude. I believe—and I think it is the general view in the country —that, in a country with a population the size of ours, faced with a lack of any worthwhile expansion in the economy, faced with the problem of high costs which is affecting so many sections, faced with the difficulties of securing sufficient revenue to meet current expenditure, there is no justification [1386] for increasing the number of separate Government Departments.

We recognise, and have believed for a long time, that there is a case for a separate Ministry of Labour, and that the problems inherent in the present situation of our industrial relations justify that decision, but if we look at the functions which a number of separate Departments and Ministers have, there is no justification, once this new Department is established, for continuing a Department of Social Welfare separate from the Department of Health, or a Department of Transport and Power separate from the Department of Industry and Commerce. Certain functions in respect of communications might be transferred to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. It is a matter of opinion and a matter of decision by either the Taoiseach or the Government as to what precise functions might be transferred and views may differ between one Government and another as to what particular functions might be transferred from one Department to another.

Some of the functions at present discharged by the Department of Transport and Power might well be appropriate to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, or vice versa. It is not necessary on this occasion to discuss that matter in detail, because that can easily be done by an order, under the Ministers and Secretaries Act, transferring certain ministerial functions and responsibilities, but what is important is the fact that this particular decision to establish the separate Department of Labour should not be used as a reason for increasing the number of Ministers and adding to the already, for the size of the country and the population, inflated list of Government Ministers.

The question of a separate Department and the functions appropriate to it was given a great deal of consideration in the NIEC Report and in that Report a good deal of reference was made to the functions which the present Department of Social Welfare, in its responsibility for the employment exchanges, exercised.

[1387] I was disappointed to learn from the Taoiseach when introducing the Bill that the responsibility for these offices would now be transferred nominally to the new Department of Labour but only on an agency basis for the Minister for Social Welfare. One of the criticisms expressed on this aspect of the matter was the fact that these exchanges had a history going back to the old poor law system and were generally regarded as responsible for administering the dole and the other payments associated with the social welfare benefits distributed by the Department of Social Welfare.

The NIEC Report on Manpower Policy recommended certain specific changes which were listed under a number of headings. In that Report it was recommended that five main changes were required: first, the image of the employment service must be improved; secondly, the employment service should seek to obtain advance notice of impending vacancies and payoffs; thirdly, it should gradually take on a more active role in facilitating the transfer of agricultural workers to other occupations; fourthly, more attention should be paid to vocational guidance to ensure that the worker finds the job for which his capacities and qualities best suit him and fifthly, that more information should be obtained about the relevant coverages of the various organisations operating in the employment market.

When this matter was referred to by the Taoiseach in introducing the Bill last week, he said that it had been decided, however, that it was better to transfer the administration of these exchanges to the Ministry of Labour who will carry on in the exchanges, on an agency basis, the functions of the Minister for Social Welfare regarding the payment of benefits. He said that the Minister for Social Welfare would, of course, continue to be responsible for the operation and development of the social welfare services and for Government policy in regard to them.

The NIEC Report adverted to this and said that the employment service [1388] tends to be regarded as an unemployment service, that this is the natural consequence of the fact that for many decades the number of vacancies has generally fallen short of the number registered as unemployed so that for many people the employment exchange became a place which they had to visit regularly to collect unemployment benefit or assistance.

This is the crucial criticism in regard to the placement services, that the employment exchanges were regarded merely as places where people got either the dole or other social welfare benefits and this particular decision, apparently, indicates that for the present at any rate and possibly for a considerable time, no effort will be made to change the character of these exchanges or to alter the general attitude and approach which the employment exchanges have taken to this problem.

It may be that the present decision is merely an interim one but, surely, when the new Department was being set up was the time to make a break with what has been criticised, not merely by the NIEC Report but by trade union organisations as well as employers who have never used to anything like the extent to which it should be used the service which the employment exchanges should provide or never regarded the employment exchanges as providing the type of service which in any modern approach would be regarded as necessary if a manpower policy is to be effectively operated.

On the general question of the functions which this particular Ministry will discharge, it seems to me that the economic aims in a modern society have certain well-defined objectives, such as full employment, a rising standard of living and reasonable stability in the value of money. These aims are difficult to achieve and even more difficult to achieve simultaneously. So far as the new Department is concerned, it would appear that it will have certain main functions — industrial relations generally and all that is involved in that description covering both legislation [1389] and consultation with the different interests.

It seems to me that the question might well be considered whether the set-up and approach to industrial relations operated in this country is appropriate to our circumstances. To a large extent, we have copied the British system, both in respect of trade union organisations and the employers' organisation, possibly because of the fact that many of the unions at one time had connections with and were largely offshoots of British unions. It seems, however, that in many cases we have adopted the least successful features of the British system without minimising the disadvantages, and, while I was glad to note from the remarks of the Taoiseach that the Government still favour the right of free collective bargaining to which this country is committed by virtue of its membership of the ILO, I was disappointed that there was no general indication from him of the guidelines which might be adopted in considering industrial relations generally.

It is true that legislation can only lay down general guidelines; it cannot make the system work. This must depend on the parties concerned and in this matter the human element is a significant factor. We have previously expressed the view, and I want to repeat it, that the problems involved in industrial relations are not easy to solve. One of the difficulties that always arise in finding a solution of most industrial unrest is that the Government, or outside intervention, is only sought when there is an actual breakdown or a dispute develops to the point that a stoppage of work occurs.

We believe the climate of opinion necessary for a calm appraisal of the problem involved in industrial relations should be developed and, if possible, brought about by laying down general basic principles which can be used as guidelines in tackling specific cases. If this were done, it might be possible to get in advance a better relationship between management and workers and to secure from both sides in industry a favourable climate of opinion, as well as the better attitude and approach [1390] which should apply to harmonising relations between both sections.

It is useless to wait until things go wrong before endeavouring to get agreement on these basic principles. In fact, one of the difficulties that has manifested itself on many occasions is that everybody is prepared to take action when the situation gets to a crucial stage. Suggestions are made that different approaches might be considered and then when the crisis passes or when the difficulty is overcome, no effort is made to bring the parties together for a joint discussion to see what steps can be taken to improve the general situation governing not merely wages but conditions of work, promotion, and the various problems that affect and influence attitudes when disagreements occur.

It seems to us, therefore, that the time to show initiative and imagination in bringing the different sections together is when there is a period of relative stability. Undoubtedly, it is almost inevitable that at a particular time one or more disputes are likely to be taking place, or are present, but the trade unions or the employers' organisations should be invited by the Government to consider, without reference to specific disputes, the long-term principles which should in future govern increases in income, their relationship to productivity, the relationship between different groups of workers, and various sectional grievances over such things as status and the way in which relations, say, between managers and workers might be conducted. These problems could be considered in isolation from particular disputes. If in that way some long-term thinking were possible, it might well provide a solution for those difficulties which are so critically important for the future of the country.

I believe we might as well look at what has been done in other countries and try to learn from experience in those countries. In that regard, I think some attention should be directed to European countries as distinct from Britain and possibly even some of the methods adopted in the United States might be considered. In that way it [1391] might be possible to get general agreement on the aims and objectives which should govern the approach to industrial relations, as well as the area in which both sides would concern themselves—not merely with getting agreement on but working out progressive approaches to the general relationship of different sections as distinct from merely questions of wages and salaries.

In considering the proposal to establish a separate Ministry, I believe the Taoiseach should have indicated whether the proposed new Department would be staffed from the staff of existing Departments or whether it was proposed to recruit additional staff. We believe it is not necessary that staff, other than the specialist staff which I suggested, should be recruited as technical advisers and assessors when the administrative staff should be available from existing Departments.

It is quite wrong, with the fewer people in employment and with the decline in population, to recruit each time a separate Department is established, new staff when the functions and responsibilities of existing Departments have been transferred to a new Department. We believe the present decision to establish this Department can be justified because of the serious situation affecting the whole economy as a result of industrial relations and the disagreements and disputes which have affected trade, commerce, output and employment but the decision to establish a new Department without amalgamating at least two, and possibly four, of the existing Departments, is one that does not commend itself to us.

When the Taoiseach introduced this measure, he gave very little indication of what the new Department would deal with, what attitude would be adopted or what policy would be enshrined in it. His speech in the main was one criticising the Opposition. We remember on a previous occasion when decisions of this sort were brought before the House the criticism expressed and the vociferous clamour raised, not only [1392] in the House but throughout the country, against the establishment of a new Department. On this occasion we accept the fact that there is justification for a separate Department of Labour but we are absolutely convinced that there is no justification whatever for continuing in their present form some of the existing Departments, more especially when under the legislation Ministers have virtually no responsibility.

Time and time again Ministers, and especially the Minister for Transport and Power in respect of a number of statutory bodies under his control, have said they had no responsibility. This would apply to other Ministers equally, for instance, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs with regard to Radio Telefís Éireann. They have all reiterated that they have no responsibility for the management or direction of these statutory bodies, and once the capital sum is laid down or the annual subvention decided by the Dáil and approved in the annual Estimate, the Minister's responsibility ceases. In those circumstances, there is no justification for separate Departments and we are entirely opposed to it.

We believe that the present proposal can only be justified if some of the existing Departments are amalgamated. It is a wrong conception of government that with fewer people in the country, fewer people in employment, it is more efficient in some way to create more Ministries.

It is common knowledge that some of the existing Ministers are merely functioning as organisers of the Fianna Fáil Party and many of them virtually devoted the whole of recent months to electioneering. Indeed a great many were disappointed, not excluding themselves, by their comparative lack of success. Similarly, we now have more Parliamentary Secretaries than ever before, not selected on any basis of merit. Many of them, both Ministers and Secretaries, are decent men but they should not be selected because they are decent men but because they have an effective job to [1393] function as Ministers or Secretaries discharging public responsibilities.

If this country is faced, as it now is, with acute economic and social problems, the way to deal with them is not to propose the creation of more jobs for Fianna Fáil Deputies but by making conscious decisions of leadership which should be the function of the Taoiseach of the Government. So far as I can see, this Government are entirely backward-looking. They are irritated by the present and fearful of the future. In those circumstances, the present proposal, unless it amalgamates two existing Departments, cannot be accepted by us as a genuine attempt to deal with the economic and social problems which affect the community.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish May I move the amendment now?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan That is at the choice of the Deputy.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman If a seconder is required, I second the Fine Gael amendment and reserve my right to speak.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish I move amendment No. 2:

To delete all words after “That” and substitute “Dáil Éireann while approving the establishment of a Department of Labour, declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill until the Department of Transport and Power has been integrated with another Department”.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan There is only one question put to the House.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish For once, I knew a little more than the Ceann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan All right; I will accept that.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish I want to state expressly at the beginning that we are in full support of the appointment of the Minister for Labour, and have been for quite a long time. So also has been the association with which we have a close affiliation, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. As the Taoiseach said, this proposal was recommended [1394] in one of its reports by the Irish National Productivity Council. We are not so foolish as to believe that the mere establishment of a Ministry of Labour will resolve the industrial problems we may have now or in the future but as far as we are concerned, what is equally important with the establishment of a Ministry of Labour, is the actual Minister, the person of the Minister, because I think the House will appreciate that one who is to accept the delegate role which undoubtedly he will have to play will be somebody who has the ability to negotiate, if not directly, in combination, and able to make an attempt, successfully, we hope, to bring the two sides of industry together on various occasions when it is necessary to do so to solve any industrial problem that may arise.

I was disappointed—I do not know whether it is possible for the Taoiseach at this stage to name the person he has in mind as the new Minister of Labour—that he did not do so because I suppose it will be the subject of another and perhaps duplicate discussion in Dáil Éireann. What is important to the members of the Labour Party is the member of the Fianna Fáil Party who will be nominated by the Taoiseach to be Minister for Labour. I do not know if the Taoiseach wanted to make this a dirty debate but he was not in his usual form, and I thought he was pretty nasty here on Thursday when he alleged that the Labour Party amendment was put down in an effort to make an opportunity for personal attacks on the present Minister for Transport and Power. I should like to remind the Taoiseach that we have a Labour Party motion on the Order Paper which is, I suppose, six or 12 months old, calling for the abolition of the Department of Transport and Power and this is one of the few opportunities presented to us of putting this issue before the House for discussion and decision.

As I said at the beginning and as the motion implies, we are all in favour of the creation of the new Ministry of Labour. I do not know why the Taoiseach was so cross last Thursday. He seems to be at great [1395] pains to defend the members of the Government as if he felt somewhat guilty about them and about their behaviour. This is the second time in about eight or nine days that he felt constrained to defend various members of the Cabinet at a time when, in fact, there was no severe personal criticism or one might say, general criticism, of these 13 or 14 gentlemen.

The Taoiseach also alleged that the Labour Party wanted this to develop into a dogfight and that this was their usual practice, as if the members of the Labour Party were the only Members who at times engaged in interruption, counter-interruption and perhaps a few ejaculations. The Taoiseach himself is no paragon as far as political behaviour is concerned. He is not the worst but one can say of all those gentlemen that they are no paragons, as is displayed every day in the week at Question Time. The Taoiseach had occasion to say in 1959 that he liked the cut and thrust of political life and he did not mind a few rows across the floor of the House. In another speech here, he referred to the National Farmers' Association and said that if they went into a political fight, they should not be surprised if they came out with bloody noses. I think the Minister for Transport and Power is well able to take care of himself also. If he got a bloody nose from time to time, he did not howl for himself as much as the Taoiseach appeared to cry for him last Thursday.

This sort of criticism is not peculiar to the Labour Party, Fine Gael or any other Party or individual. We remember the violent personal attacks made on the late Deputy Norton. We remember the personal attacks made by the former Taoiseach of the Fianna Fáil Party on Deputy Everett when it was suggested he might become Minister for Justice. We remember the attacks made on the private secretary to the late Deputy Norton and questions were raised on the Adjournment by Deputy MacEntee as to how this man behaved in his private life and as to the type of his marriage ceremony.

[1396]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan This does not seem to be very relevant.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Neither were the Taoiseach's remarks last week with regard to the Labour Party and the motives he suggested were behind this amendment. I do not want to pursue the matter. We have asked in this amendment that the Ministry of Transport and Power be integrated with another Department and if we are critical of the Department of Transport and Power and of the Minister, I do not think it can be said that we are making a personal attack on him. We are certainly in a position and entitled to criticise the office itself and its effectiveness. We are certainly entitled to criticise the Minister's administration of his Department. We are certainly entitled to question whether the position of Minister for Transport and Power is justified.

The Taoiseach, in defence of the Minister for Transport and Power, and I believe in defence of the Ministry itself, said that Deputy Childers was a conscientious, hardworking, dedicated and courteous member. I do not think anybody will deny that. I suppose it is true to say that he has always been all these things the Taoiseach mentioned since he came to Dáil Éireann. That is all right but to what effect is this, so far as his Department is concerned? I think there is a general feeling in the House that the Minister finds himself inhibited and restricted every time he stands up to answer a Parliamentary Question. As far as his administration is concerned, he has under him, in the main, the majority of semi-State undertakings. He has CIE, ESB, Bord na Móna, Aer Lingus, Aer Rianta, the B & I, Irish Shipping, harbours and a few other things.

I think we, particularly, are entitled to question the effectiveness or usefulness of the Department of Transport and Power because the Labour Party had reservations about it when it was first established in, I think, 1959 or 1960. At that time, we supported its establishment not as a Department of Transport and Power but in order to relieve the heavy burden on the Minister for Industry and Commerce, [1397] whoever he was at that time and whoever he has been since. The late Deputy Norton, in that particular debate, doubted whether or not a Minister for Transport and Power would have sufficient responsibility for which he could be accountable in Dáil Éireann. The comments at that time by the late Deputy Norton and the members of the Labour Party appear now—as they have appeared in the past two or three years, but particularly this year—to have been very wise comments indeed, because it is very difficult to see what real function, as far as Parliament is concerned, the Minister for Transport and Power has. In respect of State and semi-State companies, it seems that his only function is capital control. These capital requirements are also laid down in legislation. Their power to borrow is laid down in legislation. The Minister's only function is to come into the Dáil and to ask for an extension in these borrowing powers or an increase in their capital requirements. If one wants to go farther in respect of real control in the Department of Transport and Power, in the final analysis it lies with the Minister for Finance.

Our genuine belief—apart from the Minister himself—is that the Ministry of Transport and Power is really redundant and could be absorbed in some other Department. One of the features of the Department of Transport and Power is that it is a very large-scale employer of labour. As against what has been said by some members of the Fianna Fáil Party, we have always, in this House, given our full support to the establishment and encouragement of these various State and semi-State companies set up over the past 20 or 30 years. Because they are large-scale employers of labour, we are concerned. The Minister, in present circumstances, has no responsibility for labour relations. If the Taoiseach asks any of those whom he knows in the trade union movement, he will be told that labour relations seem to be very bad in many of the State bodies. That is why many of the rows we have here in Dáil Éireann have happened. The Minister for Transport [1398] and Power has held himself absolutely aloof. It is true that he has no legislative authority to intervene in these disputes but all the evidence in recent disputes has been—for example, in the CIE dispute and in the ESB dispute—that he did not do anything at all to attempt to resolve the difficulties. As against that, I think credit could and should be given to Deputy J. Lynch, the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, in respect of certain disputes, particularly the ESB dispute in 1961. He made great personal sacrifice and great efforts to see that these would be resolved.

The present Minister for Transport and Power seems to do everything according to the book. The present Taoiseach is too experienced and too wise to know that one cannot work in any Cabinet post purely by the book, particularly when it comes to industrial unrest, strikes, or various disputes. The Minister for Transport and Power does not appear to have had any interest in recent labour relations. On one particular occasion, that is, the ESB dispute, at the very height of the dispute, he hied himself off to some place in the United States: I do not think he should have done that. It is not one of our main criticisms against him but it is a small example of where he has appeared to divorce himself entirely— quoting the law, I suppose, himself— from a dispute which could have such very serious effects for the country.

We decided we should put down this amendment but, again, we had reservations because, as far as the Minister for Lands is concerned, I am sure he, like many others before him, must at times feel very frustrated, when replying to Parliamentary Questions in respect of the Land Commission, merely retail what the Land Commission tell him in respect of this or that particular question. The only function of the Minister for Lands appears to be in the matter of forestry and that is a relatively small item in the whole economy of the country.

Again, as far as the Minister for Transport and Power and his relationship with semi-State undertakings are concerned, their terms of reference are laid down in the laws that have been [1399] passed here establishing them. In most cases, maybe in the majority of cases, they have full-time chairmen. They run these departments in the day-to-day administration and, I suppose, in the framing and formulation of policy. Therefore, it appears, again, that the only function of the Minister for Transport and Power is to keep a fatherly eye on them. What he can do for them, I do not know, because his only function in the Dáil concerns the granting of capital and the extension of borrowing powers. There does not seem to be anything else he usefully does in relation to these semi-State undertakings, and these represent the bulk of his activities in his Department.

Despite what the Taoiseach said here last Thursday and in public pronouncements, he might consider a general revision of ministerial powers. A previous speaker referred to the amalgamation of the Department of Transport and Power and the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. That is a suggestion that might well be worked upon.

Again, as has been said, we have the biggest number of Parliamentary Secretaries any government here have ever had: I have not checked on that but I am sure it is right. We have a Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and a Minister for Lands and Forestry, and each of these has a Parliamentary Secretary. It is very difficult to understand what some of these Parliamentary Secretaries are doing. Despite what the Taoiseach says about the size of the Cabinet compared with the size of Cabinets in other countries, it would seem that there are Ministers who have pretty little to do and, mind you, the two gentlemen now sitting on the front bench—the Taoiseach and the Minister for Industry and Commerce—are not included in that statement. We have always conceded, as far as Cabinet posts are concerned, that, for example, the Department of Industry and Commerce, the Department of Finance and the Department of Local Government are very much overburdened.

Again referring back to the discussion so many years ago on the establishment of the Department of Transport [1400] and Power, we believe that roads might well be put into the care of the Department of Transport and Power— I do not mean with the same Minister. Roads could certainly be put into a Department that deals with transport and power. I would seriously ask the Taoiseach not to close his mind entirely to a general revision of Departments— not alone of the personnel in the Cabinet but of the actual Cabinet positions. Take, for example, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. It rarely has any business in this House. I have talked about the Department of Lands. The Department of Justice may have business in this House on occasions. There may be an absolute necessity to have a Department of Defence. Again, the Minister for Defence has precious little to do in this House and precious little to do outside, apart from the fact that in the past three or four years, half of the Army has been either in the Congo or in Cyprus.

However, as I say, the appointment of a Minister for Labour is not the complete answer. The Taoiseach in all his recent speeches has taken pains to talk about industrial relations. He does that because he believes, I suppose, that an improvement is needed but, mark you, he can be pretty vague at times as well. He was not vague in the Stadium on Sunday night and I think he was correct, when he said that he was going to resist, or not going to give in lightly to those who would press for more Government intervention. He is too wise for that.

Debate adjourned.


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