ARTICLE 73—NEW ARTICLE SUBSTITUTED.

Mr. K. O'HIGGINS

This amendment was put up by the Treasury, the Finance Department. It involves the deletion of Article 73 and to substitute the following new Article.—

"Nothing in this Constitution shall affect any liability to pay any tax or duty payable in respect of the financial year current at the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution or any preceding financial year, or in respect of any period ending on or before the last day of the said current financial year, or payable on any occasion happening within that or any preceding year, or the amount of such liability; and during the said current financial year all taxes and duties and arrears thereof shall continue to be assessed, levied and collected in like manner in all respects as immediately before this Constitution came into operation, subject to the like adjustments of the proceeds collected as were theretofore applicable; and for that purpose the Executive Council shall have the like powers and be subject to the like liabilities as the Provisional Government.

"Goods brought during the said current financial year from the Irish Free State to any part of the United Kingdom or the Isle of Man, or from any part of the United Kingdom or the Isle of Man to the Irish Free State shall not, except so far as the Executive Council may otherwise direct in respect of the forms to be used and the information to be furnished, be treated as goods exported or imported as the case may be.

"For the purpose of this Article, the expression `financial year' means, as respects income tax (including super-tax) the year of assessment, and as respects other taxes and duties the year ending on the thirty-first day of March."

That Article is put up to ensure continuity in the collection and in the payment of taxes. The gist of it simply is that the liabilities to the British Government become liabilities to the first Government of the Free State, and continue to run until the current financial year runs out, which will be on the 31st March next. Amounts properly due to the British Government become due to the first Irish Government under this Constitution. If there are any questions desired to be raised on this particular Article, no doubt the Minister for Finance will answer them.

Professor MAGENNIS

I would appeal to the Ministry not to spring such an important resolution on a very thin and sparsely attended Dáil, without due notice. There is a tremendous amount in this which requires the most careful consideration.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE

The amendment has not been seconded.

Mr. E. BLYTHE

I beg to second it, and I might say that really this amendment represents an alteration of words practically and no alteration of substance. It is intended to have precisely the effect that Article 73 of the Bill was intended to have, but it is thought that some matters which might have been left in doubt are not made quite clear and explicit in 73, are made clear in the proposed amendment. It is not put before the Dáil in the sense of putting a new matter of substance.

Professor MAGENNIS

I spoke before the amendment was seconded because what I was saying was in the nature of an appeal. I hoped before this was formally seconded and therefore put in train for voting that it might be postponed. So far as I was able to comprehend it, on hearing it read, there is one very important item in it. Under cover of securing continuity there is a reversal of doctrine, and a critical question is raised by it—a reversal of doctrine on the part of the Ministry in relation to their own past policy. Before the truce, and they are responsible for this, appeal was made to the country to hamper the operations of the British Government in a variety of ways. For example, by the withholding of Income Tax. Numbers of people as a matter of principle, and also encouraged thereby as a matter of gain, refused at great personal risk— the peril of imprisonment—to pay their Income Tax, and now we are asked to pass, by a small number of Deputies, a resolution which will compel those arrears to be paid now under the patriotic pressure of paying into the depleted funds of the Irish Free State.

Mr. JAMES DOLAN

Why not?

Professor MAGENNIS

Why not? That is exactly what I am going to show. There had been no settlement at the time of the Treaty with England in regard to financial matters. In all the debates about the Treaty—that I was able to read about—in the last Dáil there was not one word raised by the opponents of the Treaty against the omission to determine the financial relations, and this was one of the many things that made me regard the party opposing the Treaty as hopelessly incapable and absolutely bankrupt in the way of statesmanship—that they thought of freedom without considering it in terms of finance. Now there is as yet no agreement, so far as I understand—this may be my ignorance, but certainly the public share my ignorance—with the British Treasury as regards adjustments of finances between Great Britain and Ireland. There are to be sets-off, but what is to be the exact amount is absolutely in the melting pot. The thing is undefined, and now pressure is to be used to collect arrears of Income Tax; they are to be paid into the funds of the Irish Free State. Do the Ministry ask us to believe that England will not calculate the amount as a set-off? What, then, are they proposing to do but simply to become collectors of arrears of Income Tax on behalf of Great Britain? It seems to me that the matter requires a great deal more consideration. As to the question of policy it is simply a reversal of the Sinn Fein teaching. That is what it amounts to. Ministers are cutting with their own past. I would beg of the Ministry to leave the Dáil time to digest this. It may be that my criticism is an example of crudity. I dare say the Minister for Finance will say it is, but I shall put in this plea of extenuation that neither I nor any of our colleagues here have had an opportunity to deal with these proposals as they ought to be dealt with, namely, with full and mature consideration.

I do not think that any case has been made against accepting of this Article instead of the one that is in the Bill. It is not exactly fair to say that it is a question of rushing. Everybody who has been in attendance here knows from the number of questions that have been addressed to the Minister for Finance what imperfect information there is regarding the collection of Income Tax. It has been put to us that for some time previous to the Truce we advised people not to pay their Income Tax. That is true, but we never advised them not to pay their Income Tax at the expense of their lives, their liberties, or any bigger loss than would be occasioned by the payment of the Income Tax. As far as I know, there was no express Decree of the Dáil passed ordering people not to pay their Income Tax. These were liabilities that in the ordinary way would have gone to the British Government. By the arrangement that we have made with the British Government these will now come in to us, and if the Deputy who has spoken now has any misgivings about the matter I can assure him that if he pays up his arrears of Income Tax that they certainly will be very well spent, because there is a sensible body of men here, and in any action they will take they will be guided by the soundest business principles. There are reasons for putting down this resolution—serious reasons. There is a line of thought in this country at the moment that people will be liable for double income tax, charged here and charged also in England—people having property here and having investments in England, that they would also be liable for them. There is no danger whatever of any such liability, and it is the intention of the Government, and those who compose it, and if they are not in power it will be their duty to advise those who are in power, that the best interests of this country would not be served by having double income tax, and there is no real danger of any such thing as double income tax occurring. As regards the second part of the Article, "Goods brought during the current financial year," it is known that, although we are entering into possession of all moneys collected—Customs, Revenue charges, and so on—we have not yet got over the staffs of these Departments. The British Inland Revenue authorities and the Customs and Excise are at present operating on an agency basis. If the idea is that if we cut as from now, I say it would not be a reasonable position in the limited time at our disposal, and the number of matters to be attended to, to fix up machinery in such a perfect way as there would have been no mess-up in the business. I do not know that any case whatever, except the case of want of confidence in the Government and its advisers, has been made. I ask the Dáil to pass this amendment. It would not be possible to delay this. The Report stage, this particular stage, I expect finished possibly to-night, at least I expect to-morrow evening. In that case only verbal amendments can be taken. As regards the suggestion to hold up the whole thing in order to allow members to read it, it would have been possible for any of them to have made inquiries, and the Minister of Finance would have explained it perhaps more exhaustively.

Mr. T. JOHNSON

I am interested in this particular subject, but I think the phrase in the first sentence, "Nothing in this Constitution shall affect any liability," makes it possible for me to agree without opposing or even entering into any argument such as that touched on by the President. If there is a liability, then nothing in the Constitution shall affect it, and that is as far as one needs to go in this matter. We may deny the liability, but that is not for this discussion, I take it. I ask Ministers just to devote their attention to one very slight verbal question in the second paragraph —"Goods brought during the said current financial year from the Irish Free State to any part of the United Kingdom." By the way, United Kingdom in that sense I am not sure should appear. The words might very well be in the British Act if it were phrased in Britain—"Goods brought from Ireland to London"—but it does not appear to be quite satisfactory for us here to speak of goods brought from the Irish Free State to the Isle of Man. I suggest the word "brought" should be altered to "conveyed," and "the United Kingdom" should be altered to something else—to Great Britain, or the Six Counties, or both.

Professor MAGENNIS

When the President asked us to have confidence in the Ministry's advisers, was it to that he was referring?

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS

If the words "United Kingdom" really do refer to Great Britain, I think "Great Britain" would certainly be better than "United Kingdom," as the United Kingdom as I understand the phrase— I know it is possible to consider it otherwise—is usually construed hitherto as meaning an inclusion of Ireland, and consequently if you talk about from any part of the United Kingdom to the Irish Free State it seems a contradiction in terms.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL

Great Britain and Ulster.

I do not think you will improve on it.

The amendment was carried.

Mr. K. O'HIGGINS

I move Amendment 25—"To delete in Article 73, line 29, the word `fifth' and to insert in lieu thereof the word `sixth.' "

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. T. JOHNSON

May we have a definition of the United Kingdom at the next stage? I think it is rather important.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE

Cannot that question come up on verbal change?

Mr. JOHNSON

It is going into the Constitution.

It is fairly obvious what it is, to my mind.

Professor MAGENNIS

It has been discussed in British journals at great length as to whether the terms are any longer applicable.

Mr. K. O'HIGGINS

I move Amendment 26 to Article 75, line 56/57—"To delete the words `resigns as aforesaid, or `if any such judge.' " This amendment is an adoption of a suggestion which was made here at Committee Stage by Deputy McGoldrick. The Article will read:—"If any judge of the said Supreme Court of Judicature, or of any of the said County Courts, on the establishment of Courts under this Constitution, is not with his consent appointed to be a judge of any such Court, he shall, for the purpose of Article 10 of the Scheduled Treaty, be treated as if he had retired in consequence of the change of Government effected in pursuance of the said Treaty, but the rights so conferred shall be without prejudice to any rights or claims that he may have against the British Government." It was felt that the Article as originally worded might possibly cover the case of a resignation by reason of age or ill-health, or something in that way. A judge resigning in that way would be entitled to claim the benefit of Article 10. It is proposed, therefore, to leave out these words I have mentioned and let the Article run without them.

Mr. E. BLYTHE

I second the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS

Might I make a suggestion to the Minister to take Amendment 27en bloc.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE

Yes. There is a new Article intervening.